Virginia plane crash: White House says six F-16 military jets rushed to scene caused a sonic boom

Plane Crash Jet Scramble
Search and rescue teams leave the command post at St. Mary’s Wilderness en route to the Blue Ridge Parkway to search for the site where a Cessna Citation crashed over mountainous terrain near Montebello, Va., Sunday, June 4, 2023. (Randall K. Wolf via AP) Randall K. Wolf/AP

Virginia plane crash: White House says six F-16 military jets rushed to scene caused a sonic boom

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The White House discussed the crash of a private jet in rural Virginia in a press briefing on Monday. The crash was connected to a sonic boom heard across the Washington, D.C., area.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in an afternoon briefing that six F-16s coming from three different air bases rushed to intercept an unresponsive Cessna Citation airplane that flew over Washington, D.C., on Sunday afternoon and crashed near Montebello, Virginia, as previously confirmed to the Washington Examiner.

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The plane, which belonged to a Florida-based company owned by John and Barbara Rumpel, ended up killing their daughter and granddaughter. The Federal Aviation Administration’s initial accident report showed the pilot and all three passengers were killed in the crash.

“I want to express our deepest condolences to the family members of the loved ones who died in that crash,” Kirby said.

NORAD previously confirmed to the Washington Examiner that the F-16s were “authorized to travel at supersonic speeds, and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region.” The F-16 jets came from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland and two other bases to intercept the plane which entered a restricted FAA zone only permitted for governmental entities.

Kirby said under NORAD authorization, “If a pilot is non-responsive to those requests and continues on course and speed and altitude to enter restricted airspace,” there are responsibilities to send a message to the aircraft.

Kirby stated the two aircraft from the base in Maryland were the first to reach the Cessna aircraft.

“They had to turn on the speed to get to him, which is why people here in the district area heard a sonic boom,” Kirby said.

“When they did, they did exactly what they were supposed to do,” Kirby added. The military jets attempted to contact the pilot from the aircraft and made themselves visible.

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However, the interception was unsuccessful and ended “in the crash and the death of all on board,” Kirby concluded.

Kirby noted that President Joe Biden was “briefed and informed” of the incident. The cause of the crash remains under investigation as investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board searched the scene Monday.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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