A Sonic Shockwave: Unresponsive Aircraft Triggers Dramatic Chase Over Washington

On Sunday, a US fighter jet tracked a Cessna plane that had crashed in Virginia after flying over the area and gave out a sonic boom that shook the Washington region.

The Cessna 560 Citation V, which was flying above Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia when officials hailed it, was unresponsive, according to a statement from NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The NORAD aircraft deployed to respond to the Cessna “were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region,” according to the statement.

According to US Capitol Police, the US Capitol Complex was momentarily placed on high alert until the aircraft left the area. Since the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, airspace in the vicinity of Washington has been severely constrained.

According to a White House official, President Joe Biden received a briefing on the event.

It was not immediately clear how many people were on board the popular twin-jet business aircraft Cessna, which was delivered for the first time in 1987.

The Federal Aviation Administration determined that a Cessna Citation crashed into a steep region near Montebello, Virginia, at around 3:30 pm. The aircraft was flying toward Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York when it took off from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, according to the FAA.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it will investigate.

Flight Route

Flight After takeoff, the Cessna traveled toward Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York at a normal cruising altitude for the tiny plane of around 34,000 feet, according to information given by the tracking website Flightradar24.

At around 2:30 p.m. ET, it turned and soared directly above the airport; however, it did not descend or land there; instead, it proceeded on a straight course for roughly the following 50 minutes.

Flight According to the Flightradar24 trace, the airplane flew right over Washington, including the extremely sensitive US Capitol and White House.

The aircraft quickly fell from 34,000 feet to 27,635 feet in roughly two minutes after crossing Charlottesville, Virginia, according to Flightradar24 spokesperson Ian Petchenik. It was descending at a rate of around 20,000 feet per minute just before it vanished from the company’s tracking system, according to Petchenik.

Flight The Cessna’s downing remains unknown, however in prior incidents with unresponsive pilots, aircraft autopilots have proceeded on a straight course past the airfield.

Such drop speeds are extremely rare and may indicate that the aircraft ran out of fuel or experienced a midair breakdown or malfunction. Flight According to the FAA’s aircraft record, Encore Motors of Melbourne, Florida owned the Citation 560. After regular business hours, Encore Motors didn’t respond to a voicemail requesting a remark.

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