The cacophonous, reverberating noise that has been variously described as, “terrifying”, “loud” and “alarming” by those who heard it in Hillsboro and surrounding areas Thursday night is assumed to have been a sonic boom resulting from the associated night flying expedition of the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio National Guard, based out of Toledo Air National Guard Base in Toledo, according to a spokesperson from the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, who said that the sound caused a flurry of incoming calls from concerned citizens.
“We received some calls,” an HCSO spokesperson said. He said the calls, “varied in location throughout the county.”
“We had people out on patrol,” at the time, the spokesperson said. “We knew that they were flying. So we came to that conclusion pretty quick. We didn’t have anything that suggested it was anything else.”
The sonic boom additionally spawned memes and excited discussion on social media from startled, baffled and bewildered witnesses of the sound, with many commenters not having immediately recognized the sonic boom as such, and seeking some other type of explanation for the auditory phenomenon they collectively experienced.
According to a press release issued Thursday, “The Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing is scheduled to conduct nighttime training flights Thursday, April 7, weather permitting, Area residents may see or hear F-16 fighter jets taking off and landing.”
Explaining why the flights were conducted outside normal flight routines, the press release said: “Training flights normally take place during daylight hours, but F-16 pilots and maintenance personnel are required to conduct night operations as part of their overall readiness training. The 180th Fighter Wing appreciates the continued support from the citizens of Ohio and Michigan as we continue to train in support of our mission.”
A spokesperson from the 180th Fighter Wing explained that, “We try to let the public know” about planned flights that could be potentially disruptive.
“We usually post about it via social media, as well as send a press release to surrounding media outlets,” the spokesperson said. “The airspace we were training in last night is an FAA designated Military Operated Airspace. This airspace is one of few that authorizes supersonic flight, so it’s one of the only ones we can utilize for training that involves supersonic flying, including high speed maneuvers and low altitude flying.”
“Highland County lies under that airspace, so supersonic flying is not uncommon in that area.”
For more information about the 180th Fighter Wing, access its website at https://www.dvidshub.net/unit/180FWONG. , or its annual report at https://www.dvidshub.net/publication/issues/57345.
Juliane Cartaino is a stringer for The Times-Gazette.