Drums in the deep:
I suppose people have been listening to thunder for as long as there have been people.  One does hear that lightning, which is the dangerous bit, wouldn’t be so scary without the thunder, which makes you jump but so far as I know does not deafen you.

No doubt there was thundering surf and occasionally a landslide to give people the sense that a really low rumble means power, which of course it does.  It takes a lot of power to make a low, loud sound.  So we started making noises ourselves.  Whacking a hollow log may have been first; I don’t know.  I suppose they started skinning animals rather early on and realized that since the rawhide shrank you could get more leather if you stretched the hide out.  A sturdy frame seems like an obvious innovation.  This is just about all it takes to make a boat or a drum.  Somebody slapped the stretched hide and pretty soon some showoff was beating rhythms. 

A drum is more portable than a hollow log, so when warfare came around toting a drum along would have suggested power.  Then some centuries ago they figured out how to make explosions.  Same old low sound.  Same old sense of power and this time sure enough power.  Since 1947 people have been able to break the sound barrier with airplanes giving us a new boom from the shock wave.  Of course bullets were going faster than sound long before.  And bullwhips break the sound barrier, although so far as I know they don’t have any military application. 

When I first moved into my house near the Gulf of Mexico there would occasionally be this big whoomp and the whole place would shake.  I had a tile roof, but being pounded that way meant it was not very satisfactory.  I now have a shingle roof that promises not to leak as often.  There was a crack in the chimney that had to be fixed.  Well if cracking a guy’s chimney were the worst thing the military ever did then we’d have to have constant war because peace would be so terrible. 

After a few years the sonic booms got less intense.  I suppose some policy change was instituted to the effect that the boys (are there girl jet jockeys back then?) shouldn’t beat up on the shoreline so much, and they moved farther out.  I still hear them.  For some years I tried to predict when we were going to get into a war; if there was a flurry of booms then we presumably were preparing.  It didn’t work out as very useful.  Too many wars.  But a couple of nights ago I came home late afternoon and the booms were coming irregularly at about two per second for a couple hours.

Sure, it could have been traffic, but there is no road nearby that could do it.  It could have been rock music, but it was too irregular.  It could have been a thunderstorm but that kind of intensity and duration would be far beyond any storm I ever heard, and besides it was cloudless. 

So I started to run numbers.  The speed of sound is about a thousand feet per second.  A turn that puts three G’s on the pilot is a pretty good one.  The force of gravity accelerates you at about 32 feet per second per second.  So if you are going north at the speed of sound it’s going to take you about ten seconds at 3 G’s to stop and another ten to go that speed the other way.  But jets don’t fly that way; they turn.  So let’s say it takes 40 seconds at 100 feet per second per second to complete a turn.  It may take a bit less I suppose.  Multiply that 40 by pi over 4 if you like.  But we’ll stick with round numbers.

Now the lads are out there training, which I imagine means they aren’t just flying in circles.  You could accomplish that a lot cheaper by putting them in a centrifuge.  So saying they are flying half the time straight and half the time doing high performance turns.  That means a plane can hit us with a thump once every eighty seconds.  Which means there would have to be 160 of them or more out there.  Now I don’t think a fighter jet travels at supersonic speeds all the time.  The old SST, supersonic transport, could do it, but it was almost all fuel tank.  If you flew two hours at the speed of sound it would take you something like 1,400 miles.  The combat radius of a Super Hornet is 500 miles.  So they don’t stay supersonic for two hours.  There had to be at least 2 teams.  That’s over 300 aircraft.  Smart bombs like the Super Hornet carries are about 10 times as effective as dumb bombs.  I suppose the Super Hornet can haul as much bomb as a WW II heavy bomber.  So that would mean that there was the equivalent of 3 thousand bomber raids milling around at the same time. 

A Nimitz class super carrier only has 90 aircraft.  I don’t think you are going to have three or four super carrier loads training over the gulf without somebody noticing other than me.  So it can’t be fighter aircraft.

I suspect it was drones.  Maybe it was a drill to get ready for an attack on Syria; that was the intention at one time, and it could well have taken until now to set up the drill.  Of course with drones all calculations are off.  I have no idea how many there might have been.  But my impression would still be that Syria is a lot better off without that swarm pounding it.  With aircraft it would be a thousand bomber raid each hour.  With drones I cannot calculate. 

I don’t think I’m spilling any classified information here.  The bottom line is to avoid having the US attack you.  Everybody knows that.  I really hope we never attack anybody again.

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