Sonic boom echoes in Washington DC as jet fighters chase light plane

sonic boom echoes in washington dc as jet fighters chase light plane

The plane’s pilot was unresponsive as it flew over Washington DC – AP

A sonic boom that echoed over Washington DC on Sunday was caused by two fighter jets scrambling to intercept a private jet which had strayed into restricted airspace, officials said.

Houses on the ground shook as the F-16 broke the sound barrier as it chased a Cessna across the US capital. The noise was heard as far afield as northern Virginia and Maryland.

Twitter user Erica Petacchi said she had just got out of her car when she heard the bang.

“It’s like nothing I’ve experienced before,” she tweeted. “I thought it was a large gas explosion nearby.”

Why the Cessna, which can carry up to 12 passengers, had flown into a sensitive area remains unclear.

According to flight reports, the plane had taken off from Elizabethton, Tennessee flown to Long Island, New York and then turned south heading back towards Washington. The plane flew over the US Capitol building and the White House.

Experts believe the plane could have wandered off course accidentally. The pilot was unresponsive when contacted. One source said the plane was on autopilot.

Joe Biden spent the day golfing at Joint Base Andrews, just over 15 miles from the White House. He arrived back at the White House at 4.01 pm, about half an hour after the alert. It was unclear whether he heard the sonic boom.

The aircraft eventually crashed in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. There was no immediate word of any casualties, with the search and rescue team unable to reach the area because of low cloud.

However, the Pentagon denied the crash was caused by the high-speed pursuit.

The plane is understood to have been owned by Encore Motors of Melbourne. Company owner, John Rumpel, told the Washington Post his entire family including his daughter, grandchild and nanny were on board.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are now investigating the plane crash.

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