Washington D.C. was rocked by a loud sonic boom on Sunday, the result of a fighter jet being scrambled to respond to a small aircraft that had entered a no-fly zone and went on to crash in Virginia.
The City of Annapolis Office of Emergency Management revealed that the 'explosion' heard by many was the result of the fighter jet, having been authorized to travel supersonically, breaking the sound barrier. Fox News correspondent Lucas Tomlinson reported that the F-16 was “cleared supersonic to respond,” to intercept the Cessna Citation.
The trespassing plane had failed to respond to authorities when attempts to establish contact had been made and it was believed to have been on autopilot. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) released a statement saying that the F-16 had been released to intercept the Cessna Citation and had deployed flares “in an attempt to get the attention of the pilot,” but had failed in its attempt.
The Federal Aviation Administration then released a statement confirming that the plane had later crashed into a mountainous area in Virginia, with its status still unknown. The statement read, “A Cessna Citation crashed into mountainous terrain in a sparsely populated area of southwest Virginia around 3 p.m. local time on June 4. The aircraft took off from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tenn., and was bound for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York. The FAA and NTSB will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and provide all further updates.”
The incident serves as a reminder of the safety measures in place to protect the nation’s capital and the unity and coordination of the many departments involved, including the Department of Defense (DOD), NORAD, FAA, and the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
The F-16’s deployed flares had only multiple other aircraft in the area, with military officials stressing the need to obey no-fly regulations to the general public.
“The incident is a reminder to all aircraft operators and pilots to follow instructions of air traffic control and comply with the regulations governing the National Capital Region,” U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Jazdyk, chief of operations for NORAD's Continental U.S. North Region, said in a statement.
In the same statement, Jazdyk also extended appreciation to the military and other federal personnel involved in the operation, “We are grateful for the prompt response of air defense personnel to the incident and their diligent efforts to resolve the situation as quickly and safely as possible," he said.
UPDATE: F-16 fighter jet from DC National Guard was “cleared supersonic to respond” to unknown Cessna ignoring radio queries flying on “strange flight path” outside nation’s capital, officials say. FAA says Cessna crashed near Staunton, Virginia.
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) June 4, 2023