Eli5 Do sonic booms catch up to the pilot?


So I recently learned that when pilots exceed the speed of sound, they cannot hear any sound that they make, even the sonic boom they generated.
My question is, when the pilot slows down, do they hear the boom when it catches up to them?

In: 4

Some portion of it, but if you’re flying for 30 minutes at (an unrealistically high) Mach 2, you’re not going to hear 30 minutes worth of boom slowly catch up, not even close. Remember the shockwave is expanding rapidly, and becoming weaker as it does just like any wave in a medium. Using some rough, back-of-the-napkin math and a BUNCH of assumptions, a pilot could probably hear about 40km-50km worth of “boom”, with the more distant being incredibly faint and drowned out by the shockwaves generated by passing the sound barrier in either direction.

So in THEORY, yes a bit. In practice, in a realistic scenario, no not really.

The sonic boom isn’t a one time phenomenon, it is ongoing aslong as the aircraft is moving at supersonic speeds, it’s caused by a shockwave that supersonic travel causes


This image shows what happens, as a sound emitter travels at supersonic speeds, all of the sound waves meet up at a unified front trailing behind the aircraft, this shockwave is what you hear as the sonic boom as it passed over you.