By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
WASHINGTON (Worthy News) – F-16 fighter jets intercepting a plane caused a sonic boom that shook houses across the U.S. capital Sunday as they took off from Joint Base Andrews in a high-speed pursuit, officials said.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said the military planes responded to a Cessna aircraft flying over Washington, D.C., that crashed later in nearby Southwest Virginia, killing all four on board.
“The NORAD aircraft were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds, and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region,” NORAD explained.
A total of six military jets were scrambled from the three locations, but only two “inspected” the Cessna, according to NORAD.
“The civilian aircraft was intercepted at approximately 3:20 p.m. Eastern Time,”
NORAD added in a statement. “The pilot was unresponsive, and the Cessna subsequently crashed near the George Washington National Forest, Virginia. NORAD attempted to establish contact with the pilot until the aircraft crashed.”
It was unclear why the Cessna did not respond to radio requests or why it crashed later.
Officials with knowledge of Sunday’s event said the military did not shoot the aircraft down, and there was no indication that the military caused the crash. The jets used flares to get the Cessna pilot’s attention, NORAD added.
On the ground, the U.S. Capitol complex was briefly placed on heightened alert, Capitol Police said.
U.S. President Joe Biden was golfing with his brother Jimmy on Sunday at the course near Joint Base Andrews from 12:49 p.m. until 3:39 p.m. local time while the plane was in the D.C. region on autopilot, officials said.
The White House stressed that the president was briefed on the incident and that the sound from the boom was “faint” where Biden was.
No details were given on whether the Secret Service had taken precautions while Biden was golfing.
Public aviation records said the crashed plane was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne, a Florida-based company.
John Rumpel told The Washington Post newspaper that he was the Encore owner. Asked whether Encore owned the plane that crashed, he told paper: “To the best of my knowledge.” Rumpel said his “entire family” was on board, including his daughter, a grandchild, and her nanny. Rescuers were able to reach the site of the plane crash hours later by foot in a rural part of Shenandoah Valley “where no survivors” were found, police said.
Sunday’s incident happened in a nation still reeling from the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001 when two planes flew into the World Trade Center in New York, one into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., while another crashed in rural Pennsylvania.
The attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and instigated the multi-decade so-called “global war on terror.”
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