Sonic Boom Over DC Was From Military Jets Scrambling Due to Unresponsive Plane That Then Crashed in Virginia

FILE: Sonic Boom
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A sonic boom heard over Washington, D.C. Sunday that caused concern for those in the area was the result of military jets scrambling after an unresponsive private flight traveled into restricted airspace.  

A “loud boom” heard over Washington D.C. and Virginia Sunday afternoon caused much concern for those nearby. 

Two military fighter jets scrambled after an unresponsive private flight traveled into a restricted airspace over Washington, D.C., and Virginia, The New York Times reported. The North American Aerospace command sent two F-16 fighter jets to respond at hypersonic levels. 

"The NORAD aircraft were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region," the agency said in a statement to CBS News.

The fighters intercepted the Cessna 560 Citation V aircraft around 3:20 p.m. and it crashed near Virginia's George Washington National Forest. 

The fighter jets “were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds” to respond to the situation, which caused the boom that so many heard, NORAD said.

Flares that the fighter jets used to try to get the pilot’s attention may have also been visible to the public, NORAD said.

When the Department of Defense initially contacted the private plane’s pilot, there was no response, which reportedly triggered the military jet response.

The flight departed from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, and was bound for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York, the Federal Aviation Administration said. 

The plane headed north after departing from Tennessee before heading straight to D.C., flight trackers showed, according to CBS News. The plane descended rapidly before crashing, the Associated Press reported. It crashed into a mountainous area near Montebello, Virginia, the FAA said. The Cessna was not show down by the fighter jets, CBS reported

It was not immediately clear how many people were aboard the private business jet, owned by Encore Motors of Melbourne, which is a Florida-based company. 

John Rumpel, 75, said that his daughter, his 2-year-old granddaughter and her nanny were on the plane returning to their home in East Hampton, New York, after visiting his North Carolina home, according to Times. Rumpel runs the company that owns the plane, the Times reported. 

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