Globe-Miami community rocked by Air Force sonic booms asking for change

A massive boom in Globe-Miami may feel louder in the future as the U.S. Air Force is asking to perform sonic booms in much lower elevations, causing town leaders to come out against the request, citing a concern it will damage property.

The Air Force says the skies are getting more and more congested, so that means it needs more places to train and that is going to impact Globe-Miami.

For 36 years, Liz Mata has delivered the news for KIKO radio. The small Globe-Miami radio station was flooded with callers after a sonic boom on the afternoon of May 2.

"It was a sonic boom that literally just moved your home," Mata said.

It wasn't the first time, and it won’t be the last in these rural Arizona towns, but new changes are being proposed by the Air Force to make the booms in lower elevations.

The Air Force describes a sonic boom as, in part, "Sonic boom is an impulsive noise similar to thunder. It is caused by an object moving faster than sound – about 750 miles per hour at sea level. An aircraft traveling through the atmosphere continuously produces air-pressure waves similar to the water waves caused by a ship's bow. When the aircraft exceeds the speed of sound, these pressure waves combine and form shock waves which travel forward from the generation or 'release' point."

"I know residents who’ve had damaged stucco, siding that’s cracked, you know. It’s going to happen lower. 5,000 feet. Can you imagine?" Mata said.

For now, there’s a height restriction of 30,000 feet for a sonic boom. The proposal would lower that to 5,000.

The mayor of Globe was part of a letter from local leaders coming out against the proposal.

"Our concern is, with sonic booms, the city. Downtown Globe is over 100 years old. Two and three-story buildings are set right on the sidewalk. So when those windows break, it creates a public safety hazard if someone is below on the sidewalk," said Mayor Al Gameros.

In 2016, the city had many windows broken by a sonic boom.

The air force proposal says airspace is limited, and the changes are needed to train. They also want to lower the elevation requirements for flares.

"I do think there’s a concern that flares, if lowered, can cause fires and there’s a concern over that too," said Micah Gaudet, Miami Town Manager. He hopes residents will have more opportunities to speak up.

The Air Force didn’t respond to a request for comment on this story.

"I think, by in large, the community is well supportive of veterans and military community. We want a trained and ready military. At the same time, we want to make sure our infrastructure is preserved and I think there’s a way to do both," Gaudet said.

Nothing has been decided yet.

There will be another comment period, and it’s going to be a long way off before any decisions are made here.