In the United States, F-16 and NORAD fighters took off to intercept the Cessna Citation. As it turned out, the pilot of a civilian aircraft lost consciousness, the aircraft crashed, and everyone on board died.
The plane crashed in Virginia. Its pilot did not respond when the F-16 fighters attempted to make contact, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a press release. F-16 jets were “cleared to fly at supersonic speeds”, resulting in a sonic boom being heard in the Washington, D.C. area.
The report said the F-16s used flares “in an attempt to get the pilot’s attention.” A civilian Cessna 560 Citation V was intercepted by NORAD aircraft around 3:20 p.m. and eventually crashed near the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. The message says:
“The pilot did not respond and the Cessna subsequently crashed near the George Washington National Forest, Virginia. NORAD tried to make contact with the pilot until the plane crashed.”
CNN sources familiar with the investigation say the plane was 315 miles from its intended destination before it crashed. There were four people on board. The publication notes that it remains unclear whether the plane violated restricted airspace near Washington, or there was an emergency on board, but the source added that the F-16s did not shoot down the plane, and it is standard for the Federal Aviation Administration to call fighters if someone makes a dangerous flight.
On Sunday evening, the Virginia State Police said the search was still ongoing. The private jet is registered to a Florida company, Encore Motors of Melbourne, Inc. The plane took off from the municipal airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, bound for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York.
The company’s president is Barbara Rumpel. When she got through on Sunday, her husband John Rumpel said CNNthat Barbara is safe and they are the owners of Encore. He declined further comment.
On her Facebook profile, Barbara commented on an irrelevant post in which others asked if she was on a plane and sent prayers, writing: “My family is gone, my daughter and granddaughter.”
John Rumpel told the Washington Post that his daughter, granddaughter and her nanny were on board. He told The New York Times that the family was returning home to East Hampton, New York, after a four-day trip to their home in North Carolina, and added that his granddaughter was 2 years old.
The plane and the people on board have not yet been found. According to the FAA, the plane crashed into mountainous terrain in a “sparsely populated area.” Capitol Hill was briefly put on high alert when a small plane flew near the area on Sunday afternoon:
“Our officials worked closely with federal partners this afternoon to monitor the unconscious pilot who was flying the plane near the National Capital Region. The US Capitol complex was briefly put on high alert until the plane left the area.”
During this time, Joe Biden was playing golf at the Andrews Air Force Base golf course near Joint Base Maryland. According to a White House spokesman, the president was informed of the incident, which “did not have any impact on the Secret Service.”