- The military plane caused a sonic boom while pursuing the small plane, which then crashed.
- It was not immediately clear why the plane was unresponsive, why it crashed or who was on board.
- The aircraft was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. The company’s chairman did not comment.
Officials said a temperamental and unresponsive business jet that flew over the nation’s capital on Sunday afternoon caused the military to scramble a fighter jet before the plane crashed in Virginia.
The fighter jet caused a loud sonic boom in the capital area.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the Cessna Citation took off from Elizabethtown, Tennessee, on Sunday and was heading for Long Island’s MacArthur Airport. Inexplicably, the plane circled back over Long Island in New York and followed a straight course over DC before crashing into mountainous terrain near Montebello, Virginia at around 3:30 p.m.
It was not immediately clear why the plane was unresponsive, why it crashed or how many people were on board.
A US official confirmed to The Associated Press that the military aircraft rushed to respond to the small plane, which then crashed. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the military operation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Flight tracking sites showed the jet had undergone a rapid spiral descent, at one point falling at a speed of over 30,000 feet per minute before crashing into the St. Mary’s Wilderness.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command later said the F-16 was cleared to travel at supersonic speeds, which caused a sonic boom.
“During this occurrence, the NORAD aircraft also used flares – which may have been visible to the public – in an attempt to get the pilot’s attention,” the statement said. “Flares are used with the utmost respect for the safety of intercepted aircraft and people on the ground. Flares extinguish quickly and completely and there is no danger to people on the ground when dispensed .”
The plane that crashed was registered with Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. A woman who identified herself as Barbara Rumpel, listed as president of the company in Melbourne, Florida, said she had no no comment Sunday when reached by an Associated Press reporter.
President Joe Biden was golfing at Joint Base Andrews when the fighter jet took off. Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the US Secret Service, said the incident had no impact on the president’s movements on Sunday. Biden played golf at the Maryland military base with his brother in the afternoon.
A White House official said, “The President has been notified of the incident. The sound resulting from the cleared DOD aircraft was low at JBA.”
The Pentagon and the DC Air National Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.