Susan Montoya Bryan/Associate Press
Army warplanes intercepted an unresponsive plane as it flew over Washington, DC, before it crashed in the mountains of southwestern Virginia on Sunday afternoon, officials said. . The supersonic speed of the responding fighters created a loud bang that reverberated throughout the nation’s capital region.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.
The FAA said a Cessna Citation, a business jet, had departed from Elizabethton, Tenn., and was en route to Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York. But instead of landing, the plane turned around Long Island and flew straight over DC
NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) F-16 jets intercepted the Cessna aircraft around 3:20 p.m., NORAD said in a statement. NORAD said the pilot was found unresponsive and the military aircraft attempted to contact pilot Cessna until the plane crashed near George Washington National Forest in Virginia.
NORAD said: “NORAD aircraft were allowed to travel at supersonic speeds and people in the area may have heard sonic booms.
Before crashing in Virginia, the plane flew over DC at 34,000 feet, according to tracking data from FlightAware.
As it flew over the nation’s capital region, the Capitol Complex was placed on high alert for a short time until the plane left the area, a Capitol Police spokesman said. said in a statement.
Virginia State Police said in a statement that they were notified of a possible plane crash at 3:50 p.m. in the Staunton/Blue Ridge Parkway area.
“Search efforts are still underway by state and local law enforcement,” a state police spokesman said in an email Sunday night. “Nothing has been determined at this time.”
The NTSB will lead the investigation and provide future updates, the FAA said. NPR has contacted the NTSB for more information.
NPR’s Joe Hernandez and Russell Lewis contributed to this report.