A private plane was moving erratically over the US capital on Sunday, so the military deployed a fighter aircraft before the plane crashed in Virginia, authorities said. The fighter caused a sonic boom that was heard throughout the Washington region.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA, for its acronym in English) indicated that the Cessna Citation jet took off from Elizabethtown, Tennessee, in the direction of MacArthur Airport on Long Island, New York. Inexplicably, the plane turned back over Long Island and headed straight for Washington before crashing in mountainous terrain near Montebello, Virginia, around 3:30 p.m.
At the moment the cause of the crash, how many people were on board and why the plane did not respond to messages are unknown.
A federal official confirmed to The Associated Press that a military aircraft was deployed to respond to the behavior of the private plane. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to comment on the details of the military operation.
Flight monitoring websites showed the plane was in a nosedive, sometime descending at a rate of more than 30,000 feet (just over 9,000 meters) per minute, before crashing in St. Mary’s Park.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) later said in a statement that an F-16 was cleared to travel at supersonic speeds, which caused the sonic boom.
“During this event, the NORAD aircraft also used flares — which may have been seen by the public — in an attempt to attract the pilot’s attention,” the statement said. “Flares are used with the utmost care for the safety of the intercepted aircraft and people on the ground. The flares are quickly and completely consumed, and people on the ground are not in danger when they are used.”
The aircraft that crashed was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. When contacted by an Associated Press reporter, a woman claiming to be Barbara Rumpel, who is listed as president of the Melbourne, Florida-based company, said that I would not comment on it.