Supersonic boom in Washington: two planes chased a plane before its crash

Supersonic boom in Washington: two planes chased a plane before its crash

2023-06-09 10:16:32

A supersonic bang sounded Sunday in Washington, the American capital. The blast happened when two fighter jets sought to intercept an unresponsive aircraft before it crashed in the eastern US state of Virginia.

Residents of Washington and its suburbs have reported hearing a thunderous noise that rattled windows and walls for miles around and raised many questions on social networks.

Two F-16 fighters were mobilized due to a lack of response from a ‘Cessna 560 Citation V’ private jet over Washington and northern Virginia, the US Aerospace Defense Command described. North America (NORAD). The two fighter jets took off from the base in Andrews, Maryland, to join the aircraft which then crashed in a mountainous area. “No survivors were found” by rescuers when they reached the Virginia crash site on foot shortly before 8 p.m. (midnight GMT) on Monday, police in the eastern state said. United, which ended the search.

President Joe Biden, who was in the area on Sunday, was briefed on the incident, a White House official said, the US presidency, without specifying whether precautionary measures had been taken.

According to publicly available data, the plane was registered to Florida-based Encore Motors of Melbourne. Its owner, John Rumpel, told the daily Washington Post that his whole family was on board, including his daughter as well as a grandchild and his nanny. “We don’t know anything about the crash,” he said. In response to messages of condolence posted on his Facebook page, his wife Barbara Rumpel wrote: “My family is no longer in this world, my daughter and my granddaughter. »

The plane was not shot down

The civil aircraft had taken off from Elizabethton, Tennessee, to reach Long Island, New York, according to the American Civil Aviation Authority (FAA). The flight tracking website Flightradar24 however, indicated that the aircraft had turned back after flying over Long Island to head south, passing over Washington and Virginia. The US Capitol and adjoining buildings in Washington “were briefly placed on high alert until the aircraft left the area,” according to Capitol Police.

During the intercept attempt, NORAD fighters “were allowed to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom could be heard by residents of the area,” the command said in a statement. The aircraft also threw decoys in an attempt to get the pilot’s attention.

NORAD said it had sought to establish contact with the pilot before the plane crashed, intercepting him around 3:20 p.m. local time (9:20 p.m. in Paris). The aircraft finally crashed near Montebello, about 270 km southwest of Washington, around 3:30 p.m. local time (9:30 p.m. in Paris). The military did not shoot down the plane, several US media reported.

50 km east of the federal capital, the City of Annapolis Emergency Management Office wanted to reassure residents, indicating that the noise heard “was caused by an authorized flight from the Department of Defense. This flight caused a sonic boom. Sonic booms occur when a device breaks the sound barrier. They can surprise the population and cause damage, in particular by breaking windows.

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