Two fighter jets scrambled to intercept an unresponsive aircraft that subsequently crashed in rural Virginia, causing a sonic boom to reverberate across Washington on Sunday, according to officials, AFP.
The thunderous sound, which rattled windows and shook walls for kilometers, was reported by locals in the city and its outskirts. This boom set up a social media firestorm as many asked what had happened as it sparked discussion on social media.
The F-16 fighter aircraft “responded to an unresponsive Cessna 560 Citation V aircraft over Washington, DC, and northern Virginia,” according to a statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
According to a Pentagon official speaking to AFP, the two jets were scrambled from Joint Base Andrews and tracked the plane until it crashed in a mountainous region of southwest Virginia, one of the states bordering Washington.
An official informed media that President Joe Biden, who was at the White House and played golf on Sunday, was briefed on the event but did not say whether any emergency measures had been taken as a result of it.
The plane was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne, a Florida-based business, according to public records. John Rumpel, the company’s owner, told The Washington Post that his “entire family” was aboard the aircraft, including his daughter, a grandchild, and her nanny.
“We know nothing about the crash,” he said. “We are talking to the FAA now… I’ve got to keep the line clear.”
The civilian plane had taken off from Elizabethton, Tennessee and was bound for Long Island, New York, the FAA said.
But according to the flight tracking service Flightradar24, it had turned around after passing over Long Island and was now heading back south over Washington and into Virginia.
The Post claimed that investigators intended to arrive at the scene Monday. Several US media outlets reported that the crash wreckage had not yet been found.