By Glenn Pew, Contributing Editor, Video Editor
At least one of two RAF Typhoon interceptors broke the speed of sound over England Thursday responding to what appears to have been an errant hijack code entered into a helicopter's transponder. When the code reached controllers, they attempted to contact the helicopter. When those efforts failed, a Quick Reaction Alert was issued and the Typhoons were launched. The jets caught up with the helicopter somewhere near Bath, but not before bathing a swath of British countryside, from Bath to Swindon, Coventry, Rugby and Oxford, in sonic boom. London will host an opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic games in July, and for some residents, the initially unexplained wall-shaking noise was more than disconcerting.
Mandy Leech, a mother in Coventry, told the Telegraph.co.UK, "if it was just somebody accidentally pressing a button in his helicopter I won't be very happy because it woke up my baby and scared the life out of me." Another resident said, "The noise was just deafening ... it was pretty terrifying to be fair." Police received multiple calls from a widespread area and were not immediately able to provide an answer. By Thursday night, a military spokesman confirmed the event was caused by a "small civilian aircraft" that was "transmitting inadvertently on an emergency frequency." The code that should have been used for the flight is 7000. The pilot apparently inadvertently entered 7500, initiating the hijack threat response.