Photo: U.S. Navy
For an aeroplane to break the sound barrier, it must hit speeds of about 770 mph — when it does that a couple of things happen.All the air in front of the craft gets pushed together, can’t get out of its own way — and when that magic number gets hit — the air finally breaks free and crashes behind the plane causing a sonic boom.
The boom is literally an explosion of sound waves that travel with the plane as long as it’s flying at that speed.
But the moment that first barrage of air pounds back over the aeroplane it sometimes condenses or sweeps up vapor from the jets engine, moisture in the air, and even sea water — resulting in some pictures like these.
This F/A-18F Super Hornet flew over visitors aboard the USS Kitty Hawk and stunned everyone with a supersonic demo
You can see water vapor trailing from this F-18 as it passes above the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman
The sound barrier broken off the coast of Southern California by Capt. Scott Conn and Rear Adm. Robert Girrier
Another odd shape of vapor as this F-22 Raptor cuts through the sky and slips past the speed of sound
BONUS: The carrier USS Carl Vinson's flight deck is covered in fighter jets capable of mach-speed flight — and you can just see a Hornet breaking the sound barrier overhead
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.