WASHINGTON, June 4 — US authorities said on Friday they chased a light aircraft that violated airspace over the Washington DC area at high speed and then crashed into mountainous terrain in southwest Virginia.
Officials said jet fighters caused a sonic boom in the US capital as they raced to catch the Cessna Citation, which can carry seven to 12 passengers.
The Federal Aviation Administration said a Cessna plane crashed into mountainous terrain in southwest Virginia just as a sonic boom was heard in the capital.
A US official said the jet fighters did not cause the crash.
A source familiar with the matter said the Cessna was believed to be on autopilot and did not respond to authorities. It was not immediately clear why the pilot did not respond.
Although rare, incidents involving unresponsive pilots are not unprecedented. Golfer Payne Stewart died in 1999 after flying thousands of miles with four others, the pilot and passengers unresponsive. The plane eventually crashed in South Dakota, with no survivors.
The sound boom shocked many residents of the capital area. Several residents reported hearing the noise as far away as northern Virginia and Maryland.
Reporting by David Lauder, Daniel Trotta, Ted Hessen, Rachel Levy and Diane Bartz; Written by Ross Colvin; Editing by Lisa Schumacher
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Bill Stewart has reported from more than 60 countries, including Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and South Sudan. An award-winning Washington-based national security correspondent, Bill has appeared on NPR, PBS NewsHour, Fox News and other programs and moderated national security events, including the Reagan National Security Forum and the German Marshall Fund. He is the Edwin M. for Diplomatic Correspondence. Hood Award and Joe Galloway Award recipient.
Ted Hessen is an immigration correspondent for Reuters in Washington, DC, whose work focuses on the policy and politics of immigration, asylum and border security. Before joining Reuters in 2019, Ted worked at the news organization POLITICO, where she also covered immigration. His articles have appeared in POLITICO Magazine, The Atlantic and VICE News, among other publications. Ted holds a master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College.