In the midst of the sand and sagebrush of the New Mexico desert near Alamogordo, the Federal Aviation Agency has constructed a small town of eleven buildings.
In the midst of the sand and sagebrush of the New Mexico desert near Alamogordo, the Federal Aviation Agency has constructed a small town of eleven buildings. Since November 18th, Air Force F-104 aircraft have been bombarding the structures with sonic booms. The flights are controlled from a communications van at the test site:
Each of the test houses is heavily instrumented to measure the pounds of pressure the booms exert on them. The Air Force is working closely with the F.A.A. and Colonel Dave Lillard is in charge of the test site.
But, yesterday afternoon something went wrong. A pilot, making a pass at five hundred feet for the benefit of photographers, accidentally exceeded the speed of sound. The run..at 7-hundred 60 miles per hour.. was filmed in slow motion. At such a low altitude, the plane created a forty pound boom, twenty times greater than the maximum specification for the jet transport.
The accidental boom smashed two ten by five foot sections of glass in a store-building; sixteen panes of glass in a greenhouse and three windows in the control van. Since the tests were designed to establish at which point damage begins, officials first feared the results of the program might be jeaprodized. Flights were cancelled today while technicians checked the buildings for damage. This afternoon, they decided future measurements would still be valid and the flights will resume tomorrow. This is Virgil Dominic reporting.