A loud explosion which shook the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area Sunday was caused by fighter jets scrambled to intercept an unresponsive plane, authorities stated.
Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled from an Air National Guard base near Atlantic City, New Jersey and two others took off from Joint Base Andrews after an unauthorized Cessna 560 Citation V aircraft made its way through DC and northern VA airspace, Fox News reported. In order to catch up with the unresponsive plane, pilots were authorized to travel at super sonic speeds, creating a sonic boom heard by residents throughout the region, a press release from NORAD stated.
Pilots intercepted the Cessna at approximately 3:20 p.m. Sunday and found the pilot of the aircraft to be “unresponsive.” The Cessna later crashed near the George Washington National Forest in Northern Virginia, the release stated. (RELATED: Secret Service Broke Chain Of Command After 9/11 Without Bush And Cheney Knowing, New Declassified Docs Reveal)
NORAD Responds to an Unresponsive Aircraft over the National Capital Region pic.twitter.com/EX7r1B1Uum
— 1st AF/America’s AOC (@1stAF) June 4, 2023
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the Cessna had taken off from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Tennessee and was bound for Long Island MacArthur Airport before apparently making a near 180-degree turn, violating restricted DC airspace, Reuters reported. After the aircraft crashed near Montebello, Virginia it was determined there were four people aboard the plane, according to Fox News.
The Cessna was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne, Florida, the owner of which told the Washington Post his “entire family” had been aboard the plane, including his daughter, grandchild and the child’s nanny. “We know nothing about the crash,” Encore Motors owner John Rumpel told the Washington Post. “We are talking to the FAA now … I’ve got to keep the line clear.”
The U.S. military repeatedly attempted to make contact with the pilot before the aircraft, which had reportedly been on autopilot, went down, Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the matter. The FAA will be investigating the incident and the cause of the crash, the outlet stated.