A loud boom that shook homes and buildings in Howard and Tipton counties around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night may have been caused by a meteorological condition.
The boom was apparent from Kokomo’s northside to homes in the city of Tipton.
In reports made to authorities, people told of seeing flare-type lights in the western sky immediately after hearing the noise, leading to the possibility there had been some type of plane crash.
Initial reports brought countless police, fire and rescue units to an area near the intersection of U.S. 31 and 300 North in Tipton County. But, after finding nothing while searching that area, the search began moving west and north back into Howard County.
Units responding included sheriff deputies from Howard and Tipton counties, Kokomo and Tipton city police, Indiana State Police, Howard County Emergency Management Agency and fire departments from Harrison and Taylor townships, Sharpsville and Kempton.
After nearly an hour of searching, however, no debris of any sort had been found. Authorities at Grissom Air Reserve Base and Indianapolis International Airport were contacted, but they told police they had no aircraft missing.
So if it wasn't a downed plane, what created the explosion? There is speculation it could have been a meteor because of the metallic smell detected over Kokomo following the explosion. Apparently a similar explosion happened near Logansport the night before. "The same situation occurred approximately the same time Tuesday night in Logansport and northern Cass County, according to the Logansport Pharos-Tribune," Dempsey writes. One witness wrote this account in a comment on the Star's report on the story:
I live in Kokomo and when my family heard the boom we all looked around. After the boom, me and my father saw lights to the west. But they weren't moving at all. They were completely stationary, a whitish yellow, and pulsed 3 times and disappeared. I don't know why I would see lights like that AFTER the boom if it was something falling to the ground. I've never seen anything like them before. The lights were a series of circles, each getting bigger from left to right. They collectively brightened and dimmed 3 times before disappearing. I would like to see the videotape someone captured, and compare it to what I saw. I sure hope they find something today.
Another Kokomo witness commented on the Star's first online report that three F-16s were spotted in the sky immediately following the explosion.
UPDATE: The Indiana Air National Guard is now considering the possibility it is responsibile for the incident, attributing it to F-16s on maneuvers in the area. The Star's Tom Spalding writes:
Tech Sgt. Darin Hubble with the 122nd Fighter Wing, an Indiana Air National Guard unit based at Fort Wayne International Airport about 70 miles away, said military officials are investigating if F-16 training might explain the Kokomo booms and lights and similar reports Tuesday over Logansport.
He said training often includes pilots shooting flares and can produce sonic booms that shake the ground below.
“We’re allowed to do training missions in that area and our F-16s are equipped with flares that erupt in order to evade heat-seeking missiles. They’re a deterrent,” he told the Associated Press . . .
Hubble said the National Guard’s Joint Force Command in Indianapolis would release a statement this afternoon on the reports. But he said the 122nd’s logs do not indicate the jets producing sonic booms Tuesday or Wednesday night. Logansport Police Chief A.J. Rozzi said he heard a loud sonic boom on Tuesday night, and then heard the sound of a jet high overheard. He said residents also reported seeing fire streaks in the sky.
He said it is common for the 122nd to conduct missions in the area and believes F-16 training almost certainly explains the sights and sounds.
“They’ve been doing that training for quite a while. I don’t know what maneuvers they’re actually doing, but they do shoot out streaks of light,” he said.
Major Brian Martin, a spokesman North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said none of the thousands of manmade objects — spent rocket vehicles, satellites — that government tracks re-entered the atmosphere over the U.S. on Wednesday night.