The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Lupton Renaissance Fund Update

As Zach Wamp blows away the bad guys in the Raptor simulator, Talk Radio's Kevin West watches and waits for his turn at the controls.

Sonic Booms Discussed at Challenger Center

At the request of Congressman Zach Wamp, Lockheed Martin held forums last week at the UTC Challenger Center to discuss sonic booms caused by F/A-22 Raptor flight testing. The Raptor is the newest fighter in the U.S. Air Force.

FAA approval for the flights was linked to proximity to Lockheed Martin’s base in Marietta, Georgia and reduced air traffic along the Raptor testing corridor, which covers 120 miles. Planes travel north out of Marietta to south of Crossville, southeast over Chattanooga and then on to Huntsville. When the airplane flies supersonic, or beyond the speed of sound, it creates a sonic boom.

“The F/A-22 Raptor will replace the F15s, which have been flying since the mid 1970s,” according to Randy Neville, Boeing’s chief test pilot on the F/A-22 program and a Red Bank High School graduate. “The F/A-22 is an advanced piece of machinery, and stealth is a major design attribute. We are working on more operational testing, and it is never out of control."

Wamp said he invited the Lockheed Martin team to address concerns from his constituents. Wamp said he had his first hand experience of hearing a sonic boom came while hew was visiting a home in Lookout Valley. “It just about gave me a heart attack,” Wamp said."

Lockheed officials are hoping that in the future, the Air Force will not require each jet to be tested at supersonic. “Until then, we are looking at ways to minimize the impact. We are considering no flying on Sundays and flying at a higher altitude,” according to Greg Caires, Raptor Program spokesman.