Are there any considerations to take into account when flying around supersonic aircraft? I know that wake turbulence from large aircraft can pose a threat to smaller planes. Is the same true of the shock waves generated by planes in supersonic flight?

For instance, do fighter pilots need to be aware of the shock waves caused by other fighter planes in the vicinity?


1 Answer 1


Great question! I am far from an expert in supersonic flight, but according to this NASA chat transcript, Ed Haering (an aerospace engineer at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, Ca. who I would consider to be an expert) answers just this question and says that it isn't a problem for other airplanes:

chetman1020: Do sonic booms ever disrupt other things in the air?

Ed: Sonic booms can temporarily dissipate or accentuate a "Sun-Dog," the small bit of a rainbow off to either side of the Sun caused by high altitude ice crystals. Aircraft are not affected by booms from other aircraft.

  • $\begingroup$ I would imagine you would still hear them (at least in light GA aircraft, which aren't very soundproof) which might shake an unsuspecting pilot up a bit. The explanation above makes sense though - it's just a transient pulse of pressure through the atmosphere. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Jan 29, 2014 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ @voretaq7 That's a good question, I wonder if they would hear it? $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jan 29, 2014 at 22:13

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