A sudden sonic boom rippled through Washington, D.C., and its neighboring areas on Sunday afternoon. This unusual sound resulted from two F-16 fighter jets that hurriedly flew from Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews to intercept an unresponsive private plane that tragically crashed.
The crash killed all four passengers on board.
These military jets were deployed in response to a private Cessna that had veered into the capital’s restricted airspace. This left the Department of Defense with no choice but to take swift action.
Upon reaching the Cessna, the F-16 pilots observed that the private plane’s pilot seemed to be unconscious, leading to the suspicion that the aircraft might have been on autopilot at the time of the crash.
Hours after the crash in southwest Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, rescue teams arrived on foot at the rural crash site. When they arrived, no survivors were found.
The aircraft was already near its New York destination when it made a near U-turn, heading towards Virginia. According to Flight Aware, a flight-tracking website, the plane descended rapidly at one point. It plummeted more than 30,000 feet per minute before its fatal crash.
In a statement by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the two F-16s were permitted to travel at supersonic speeds. This caused the sonic boom that was heard across the region.
It was discovered that the private plane was carrying the daughter, the two-year-old granddaughter, and nanny of John Rumpel- the owner of the company where the plane was registered. They were returning to their East Hampton home after visiting Rumpel in North Carolina.
Rumpel, himself a seasoned pilot, speculated to the press that the plane might have lost pressurization. This would have led to the unconsciousness of those on board before the crash.
Washington’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency reassured residents that there was no ongoing threat linked to the incident and clarified that the Cessna was not shot down by a military jet.
The incident is currently under investigation.