HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. – Officials with the 49th Wing have announced the flying schedule for the week of March 5-11, in addition to a brief story which might answer some questions about sonic booms.
Sonic booms could occur Monday, March 5, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday, March 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Wednesday, March 7, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.; and Thursday, March 8, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
At this time no flights are scheduled for Friday, March 9; Saturday, March 10, and Sunday, March 11.
Schedules can change based on a variety of reasons and scheduled times do not always mean sonic booms will occur.
The F-22 Raptor, a 5th generation fighter aircraft, is the fastest fighter jet in the world and has capabilities that can be heard for miles.
“The F-22 is the most dominant platform,” said Lt Col. Robert Teschner, 49th Operation Group deputy commander. “The aircraft can get fast very quickly and the less amount of time we spend in harm's way, the more survivable we are as a platform.”
Tied directly to the speed of the F-22 are sonic booms, and anytime any jet flies faster than the speed of sounds, it will create a sonic boom.
“This is a natural consequence to a very important mission and that constant training is necessary,” Teschner said. “We have to keep everybody qualified and there are certain currencies we have to keep to make sure everybody is ready to answer our nation's call.”
Holloman has a total of 39 qualified F-22 pilots who fly a number of missions, from learning the basics of flying the F-22 to flying dog-fight type missions, said Teschner.
“You have to be able to absorb lots of different kinds of data, quickly assimilate, and then do something about it,” he said. “Every mission has a different challenge, and being able to train for all types of missions here is why our pilots are ready to apply the skills they need to be ready for anything.”
Being mission ready for the F-22 pilots means they must be able to respond any time, any place within a matter of days. Because they must be ready at all times, the pilots must fly the jets to their fullest capability, said Capt. Harrison Garlick, 7th Fighter Squadron pilot.
“We flew five weeks worth of intense training to get ourselves ready for Red Flag; it is the most intense air-to-ground and air-to-air training in the world,”, said Teschner. “That type of training does seem to produce more sonic booms.”
To lessen the impact on the public the pilots use airspace over less populated areas to help reduce the amount of sonic booms.
“When we fly supersonic, we try and fly high to reduce the impact on the surrounding areas,” Garlick said. “As pilots we are concerned about the effect of the sonic booms and we really appreciate the local community support. Because of your support we can train to defend America. The operations group is listening to the concerns of the communities and readjusting our training to try and minimize the impact on the local area.”
“With a family that lives downtown as well, I am sensitive to the noise issues with this airplane,” said Teschner. “Our balance is that the nation needs us to be as prepared as possible.”
Teschner said even taking a few days off from flying can make a pilot feel like he's losing his edge.
“You have to maintain consistency in your flying if you want to be able to tactfully take part in our demanding missions and that requires repetition,” said Teschner. “The F-22 is a highly moveable airplane that has to go in and fire off a weapon then escape the threat zone at a very high speed, just as it is done in real missions.”
Another variable the pilots cannot control is the weather, which can carry sonic booms much farther than usual, Teschner said. During flight the weather can affect sonic booms by the way clouds keep sounds down, and certain air temperature can carry sonic booms for up to 50 miles, He said.
Overall, the pilots agree this area is the best place in the country to train in the F-22.
“To be able to fly the mission here on a daily basis in this airspace gives us the capability to achieve a mission. We can maximize our fuel and time because we are so close to the airspace that we do our missions in. I have never had it so easy in my Air Force career,” said Teschner.
“New Mexico is the best place to fly and allows us to do our mission very effectively,” said Garlick.
Holloman posts the weekly flying schedule on the official Holloman website,http://www.holloman.af.mil, to let the public know when to expect possible booms.
For additional information and photos, please visit the Holloman web site atwww.holloman.af.mil, like us on the Holloman Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/HollomanonFB, or follow us on Twitter @HollomanAFB.
By Airman 1st Class Colin Cates, 49th Wing Public Affairs