Jet Plane Crashes in Virginia
In a supersonic pursuit of a small plane with an unresponsive pilot that violated the airspace near Washington, D.C., and eventually crashed into the Virginia highlands, the United States launched F-16 fighter jets, according to officials.
According to Virginia state police, there were no survivors at the crash scene.
As they chased the errant Cessna Citation, the jet fighters reportedly made a sonic boom over the nation’s capital, alarming residents in the Washington region.
A source with knowledge of the situation claimed that there were four individuals on the Cessna. In a Cessna Citation, there is room for seven to twelve people.
First responders arrived at the collision site after several hours but discovered no survivors, according to a statement from the Virginia State Police.
The flight-tracking website Flight Aware states that Encore Motors of Melbourne, Florida is the owner of the Cessna’s registration.
The Washington Post was informed by Encore owner John Rumpel that his daughter, a grandchild, and her caregiver were traveling.
Rumpel was reported as saying by the Post, “We don’t know anything about the crash. He concluded by saying, “We are talking to the FAA now,” and then he hung up.
The Cessna crashed close to the George Washington National Forest in Virginia, according to a statement from North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The U.S. military made attempts to speak with the pilot but he was unconscious.
Another source with knowledge of the situation reported that the Cessna looked to be flying automatically.
The statement added that NORAD planes also fired flares in an effort to draw the pilot’s attention. “The NORAD aircraft were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region,” it said.
The fighters did not cause the crash, according to a U.S. official.
The Cessna departed from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, and was headed for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York, which is located about 50 miles (80 km) east of Manhattan, according to a statement from the FAA. It also said that it and the National Transportation Safety Board would conduct an investigation.
Flight Aware said that the aircraft seemed to approach the New York region before doing a roughly 180-degree turn.
Pilots who are unresponsive have been involved in incidents before. The golfer Payne Stewart and four other passengers died in 1999 after the plane they were in traveled hundreds of miles with the captain and other passengers unconscious. There were no survivors when the jet eventually crashed in South Dakota.
In the case of Stewart’s flight, the cabin pressure dropped, which led to oxygen deprivation and the passengers losing consciousness.
Similar to this, a small U.S. private plane carrying an unconscious pilot crashed in 2014 off the coast of Jamaica after straying significantly off its course and invoking a U.S. security alert, which included a fighter jet escort.
Many residents of the Washington area were alarmed by the sonic boom on Sunday, and many of them reported hearing a tremendous bang that shook the ground and the walls on Twitter. Many locals claimed to have heard the roar in Maryland and northern Virginia.