A sonic boom was heard across the Washington, D.C., metro area Sunday as fighter jets hit “supersonic speeds” in an attempt to intercept an unresponsive pilot
Four people were killed in a small plane crash in Virginia on Sunday, which caused two F-16 fighter jets to hit “supersonic speeds” in an attempt to intercept an unresponsive pilot.
A two-year-old girl, her mother, the girl’s nanny and the plane's pilot were killed in the crash, according to The New York Times. The mother was identified as 49-year-old Adina Azarian, a luxury real estate agent in the Hamptons, according to The Daily Mail.
After the small Cessna 560 entered restricted airspace, two F-16 fighter jets were dispatched, according to a statement from NORAD. The jets were “authorized to travel at supersonic speed and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region,” the statement said.
Once the jets reached the unresponsive Cessna, flares were used “in an attempt to draw attention from the pilot“ and “may have been visible to the public.”
NORAD said the aircraft was “intercepted at approximately 3:20 p.m.” local time and the “pilot was unresponsive.” After many attempts to “establish contact with the pilot,” the civilian aircraft crashed near the George Washington National Forest in Virginia, the statement said. “NORAD attempted to establish contact with the pilot until the aircraft crashed.”
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The aircraft was a private business jet owned by Encore Motors of Melbourne, the Times reported. John Rumpel, who runs the company, told the outlet that the group was flying to New York after visiting him in North Carolina.
While he said he didn’t know much about the crash, he speculated that if the plane had lost pressurization, the four individuals on the plane "would have gone to sleep and never woke up.”
Rumpel’s wife, Barbara Rumpel, shared photos of her daughter and granddaughter on FacebookSunday, writing, “My family is gone, my daughter and granddaughter.”
First responders who attended to the crash site said the plane left a “crater” and it appeared that the plane hit the ground “at a very steep angle," CNN reported.
The cause of the crash currently remains unknown, but the NTSB is investigating.
DC Homeland Security & Emergency Management acknowledged the boom soon after it happened. “We are aware of reports from communities throughout the National Capital Region of a loud “boom” this afternoon,” the agency tweeted. “There is no threat at this time.”
The sonic boom was caused when the F-16s his supersonic speeds. According to the Air Force, a sonic boom is “caused by an object moving faster than sound -- about 750 miles per hour at sea level.”
Karen Hatchl, a teacher in Arlington, was playing frisbee with her kids when they heard a loud noise that “sounded like thunder” even though there “wasn’t a cloud in the sky.” She tells PEOPLE that they “wondered if something had blown up.”
“It was jarring,” she says. “Enough so that I looked for an emergency announcement and radar to see what it could be.”
Maddie Caywood, a PR manager, meanwhile said, “I was with friends at an outdoor gathering in Capitol Hill. We heard a loud, booming sound that shook the porch and made everyone around us go silent. It sounded like a cannon went off nearby.”
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