Airport Opening Ruined As Jet’s Sonic Boom Shatters $10m Of New Windows

A cautionary tale for show offs everywhere...

Airport Opening Ruined As Jet’s Sonic Boom Shatters $10m Of New Windows

Image: Wikipedia

We’ve long been on the lookout for some of the travel industry’s bests and worsts. Take this business class layout with “coffin seats” or this first-class meal choice as prime examples. This week, however, we’ve uncovered a surprise contender for the most unexpected way we’ve ever seen an airport opening derailed in such disastrous fashion.

Way back in 1959, the highly anticipated opening of Canada’s brand spanking new Ottawa International Airport was thrown utterly off course. The airport, boasting cutting-edge modern architecture and a world-beating high passenger capacity, was set to launch with a grand opening ceremony that would put it on the map as a landmark aviation hub in a world only just embracing the wonders of international commercial travel.

WATCH: Ryan Reynolds’ Australian Doppelganger Causes Chaos In Taipai Airport

The eve of the ceremony saw the Royal Canadian Air Force gearing up for a show sitting of the new airport’s scale and status, with a dress rehearsal of the festivities well underway. As part of the show, the U.S. Air Force had deployed a Lockheed F-104 Starfighter — then a truly state-of-the-art symbol of the country’s technology and military prowess.

The practice session went smoothly until a Canadian official, eager to make a name for himself and add a touch of showstopping-spectacle to the event, requested the American pilot perform a very special mid-air maneuver to commemorate the occasion…

Only too happy to oblige, the pilot steered the Starfighter in a low, flat arc towards the terminal and executed a supersonic flyby. The sonic boom that followed was undoubtedly impressive but nothing short of catastrophic; the sheer force shattered nearly every window and windshield on the north side of the airport, obliterated ceramic cups in the staff rooms, dislodged ceiling tiles, warped window frames, and even inflicted damage on some of the airport’s integral structural beams.

TIL During the opening ceremony of Ottawa International Airport’s new terminal in 1959, a USAF F-104 Starfighter did a supersonic flypast. The resulting sonic boom shattered nearly all the glass in the airport and caused significant structural damage, delaying the opening for another year.
byu/ICantDecideMyName intodayilearned

It would be no kind of overstatement to say that the aftermath was a scene of devastation, with damages amounting anywhere from half a million dollars up to a million dollars (which, adjusted to today’s inflation, would be worth a staggering $10 million USD).

The unforeseen incident not only left a physical scar on the airport but also delayed its opening by a whole year, tarnishing what was meant to be a celebratory milestone in Canadian aviation history and likely costing the taxpayer countless coins.

Nevertheless, we can’t deny that it must have been a pretty cool thing to witness, so long as you were a safe distance from the lethal flying shards of glass…