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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