Federal authorities are investigating the crash of an unresponsive plane that flew near the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, and military fighter jets have rushed to the scene. to intercept the flight Before Officials say it crashed in northern Virginia and did not survive.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive at the crash site on Monday, where they will “begin the process of documenting the scene and examining the aircraft,” the agency said in a statement.
A civilian plane carrying four people crashed into the ground in Virginia on Sunday afternoon, missing its target by more than 300 miles, sources familiar with the investigation said.
The small plane took off from an airport in Elizabeth, Tennessee, and was headed for New York’s Long Island MacArthur Airport, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration.
No surviving passengers were found at the scene of the crash Sunday night, and Virginia State Police said their identities will be released when they become available.
Details of why the plane veered so far and what caused the crash are still unclear.
The U.S. Capitol complex was placed on “high alert” when the plane flew near the area Sunday afternoon, according to a statement from the U.S. Capitol Police.
According to information released by the Continental US North American Aerospace Defense Command Region, the F-16 fighter jets were “authorized to travel at supersonic speeds” while running into contact with a Cessna 560 Citation V aircraft.
The unusual speed of the jets caused a sonic boom in the Washington, D.C., area, officials said, and some residents reported being startled by the sudden and reverberating sound.
“The house shook, the windows rattled, it was done. We were a little freaked out,” said Chuck Martin, who felt the boom in Fairfax County, Virginia. CNN affiliate WJLA. “I started calling the police. Their emergency line was always busy. The last time I went, they said, ‘Oh this DOD plane went supersonic, it was a little weird.’
Residents in Maryland also reported hearing booms.
“Our ring notifications go crazy with so many different options. Is it a navy? Or is it a sound boom? Or an earthquake?” said Sandy Aburja, who lives in Cambrils, Maryland CNN affiliate WBAL.
When the F-16s reached the Cessna around 3:20 p.m., the jet pilots set off flares in an attempt to get the pilot’s attention, the release said.
“The pilot became unresponsive and the Cessna subsequently crashed near the George Washington National Forest, Virginia,” the release said. “Norad attempted to establish contact with the pilot until the plane crashed.”
A US official told CNN that the F-16s did not shoot down the plane. The official noted that the FAA routinely calls in jets when someone flies unsafely.
State and local police in Virginia searched the area near the northern town of Staunton for several hours after being notified of a possible crash, the agency said.
Authorities located the plane crash site in northern Virginia Sunday night after hours of searching.
State police spokeswoman Corinne Keller confirmed that none of the plane’s passengers were found alive when first responders arrived at the crash site around 8 p.m. Sunday.
A private flight is booked According to FAA records, Florida-based Encore Motors of Melbourne, Inc.
John Rumpel, whose wife Barbara is listed as president of the company, told CNN they own Encore. Barbara Rumpel’s husband confirmed that she was safe, but declined to comment further.
John Rumpel reported The New York Times Her daughter, 2-year-old granddaughter and her nanny were on board. He told the Times that the family was returning home to East Hampton, New York, after a four-day trip to his home in North Carolina.
On her Facebook profile, Barbara Rumpel had commented, “My family is gone, my daughter and my granddaughter,” in an unrelated post in which others asked if she was on the plane.
The plane became diverted Sunday afternoon as it flew over Washington, D.C., and did not respond to attempts to contact it, prompting F-16 fighter jets to respond.
US Capitol Police put the Capitol complex on “high alert” as the plane passed through the region, the agency said.
“This afternoon, our officers worked closely with our federal partners to track down an unresponsive pilot who was flying near the National Capital Region. “The US Capitol complex was briefly placed on high alert until the aircraft left the area,” the department’s statement said.
It is not clear whether the aircraft entered restricted airspace.
President Joe Biden was playing golf at the Andrews Air Force Base golf course near Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, when the sonic boom reverberated across Washington. After the fighter jets were shot down, the US Secret Service said it did not change its posture to keep President Biden safe.
A White House official said the president had been briefed on the incident.
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