Residents of the Washington DC area were startled by a loud boom in the sky around 3 pm yesterday June 4, and multiple home video cameras captured the disruption. People were left wondering about the noise for almost an hour before an Annapolis OEM tweet revealed that it was a sonic boom, caused by two F-16 fighter jets that were scrambled to intercept an unresponsive plane over the nation’s capital.
The loud boom that was heard across the DMV area was caused by an authorized DOD flight. This flight caused a sonic boom. That is all the information available at this time.— Annapolis OEM (@AnnapolisOEM) June 4, 2023
That plane, a private Cessna 560 Citation V jet, later crashed in Shenandoah Valley Virginia with no survivors.
“That was scary,” @Sveatoslove wrote on Twitter.
SONIC BOOM: People in Annandale, Virginia, heard a sudden sonic boom on Sunday when F-16 planes intercepted an unresponsive aircraft that eventually crashed near the George Washington National Forest. No survivors were found at the crash site. https://t.co/maggqlXV1h pic.twitter.com/LcoH5T1Yg6— CBS News (@CBSNews) June 5, 2023
The Cessna was later revealed to be the property of John Rumpel, a prominent NRA, and Trump Victory Pac donor. Speaking to the New York Times, he revealed that his daughter, granddaughter, a nanny, and the pilot were all victims in the crash.
“My family is gone, my daughter and granddaughter,” Rumpel’s wife, Barbara wrote on Facebook.
My pond camera captured the sonic boom that happened in the DC area today. The audio quality isn’t the greatest, but you can hear the boom a few seconds into the clip and possibly its echo. You can also see the fish scramble after it happens. #DCSonicBoom https://t.co/XWnl3FIsGR pic.twitter.com/vNUCBXekHT— Andrew P. (@WMTribe99) June 5, 2023
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the flight departed from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, en route to MacArthur Airport in Long Island. After entering the New York area, it made a 180-degree turn and began flying back toward Virginia.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command stated that the two F-16s were given authorization to go supersonic to intercept the plane. They soon realized that the plane’s pilot was incapacitated, and used flares in an unsuccessful “attempt to draw attention from the pilot.” Eventually, the plane made another turn and dropped 30,000 feet in one minute before crashing. The F-16s did not shoot it down, despite the speculation online that they had.
NORAD Responds to an Unresponsive Aircraft over the National Capital Region pic.twitter.com/EX7r1B1Uum— 1st AF/America's AOC (@1stAF) June 4, 2023
BREAKING: A small Cessna plane flew over a no fly zone in Washington, D.C. unresponsive this afternoon.— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) June 4, 2023
- F16's were then scrambled to intercept the unresponsive aircraft.
- The Annapolis Office of Emergency Management confirmed that a sonic boom was caused by the F16s.
It would appear that this tragedy was a “ghost plane” incident; another name for the phenomena of a plane flying on autopilot, after high altitude depressurization has incapacitated everyone on board.
Rumpel, a pilot himself, took some solace in this likely possibility. “They all just would have gone to sleep and never woke up,” he said.