WASHINGTON — A wayward and unresponsive business plane that flew over the nation's capital Sunday afternoon caused the military to scramble a fighter jet before the jet crashed in Virginia, officials said. The fighter jet caused a loud sonic boom that was heard across the capital region.
The Federal Aviation Administration says the Cessna Citation took off from Elizabethtown, Tennessee, on Sunday and was headed for Long Island’s MacArthur Airport. Inexplicably, the plane turned around over New York’s Long Island and flew a straight path down over D.C. before it crashed over mountainous terrain near Montebello, Virginia, around 3:30 p.m.
NORAD confirmed a loud sonic boom was heard over the area after the aircraft was authorized to travel at supersonic speeds. The fighter jet also used flares that NORAD said may have been visible to people on the ground in an attempt to get the pilot's attention.
It was not immediately clear why the plane was nonresponsive, why it crashed or how many people were on board. NORAD officials said the plane that crashed was a Cessna 560 Citation V, a business private jet. It was intercepted around 3:20 p.m. EST. The fighter jet tried to establish contact with the pilot before the plane ultimately crashed.
A U.S. official confirmed to The Associated Press that the military jet had scrambled to respond to the small plane, which later crashed. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the military operation and spoke on condition of anonymity.
The plane that crashed was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. A woman who identified herself as Barbara Rumpel, who is listed as the president of Encore Motors of Melbourne, said she had no comment Sunday when reached by a reporter for The Associated Press.
President Joe Biden was playing golf at Joint Base Andrews around the time the fighter jet took off. Anthony Guglielmi, spokesperson for the U.S. Secret Service, said the incident had no impact on the president’s movements Sunday. Biden was playing golf at the Maryland military base with his brother in the afternoon.
The Pentagon, the D.C. Air National Guard and the North American Aerospace Defense Command did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.