U.S. federal investigators will try to determine the circumstances surrounding a private plane with an unresponsive pilot that crashed Sunday in the state of Virginia after flying over the nation’s capital and prompting the military to scramble two jet fighters.
Virginia State Police said rescuers arrived at the crash site by foot late Sunday and found no survivors.
The plane had taken off from an airport in Tennessee and was nearly at its planned destination in New York when it turned around and headed back to the southwest. The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane crashed in a mountainous area near Montebello, Virginia, about 200 kilometers southwest of Washington.
Both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.
The North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) said the fighter jets were “authorized to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region.” The jets also fired flares to try to get the attention of the pilot of the Cessna 560 Citation V aircraft, NORAD said in a statement.
The White House said President Joe Biden, who was playing golf at Joint Base Andrews around that time, “was briefed on the incident” and that the sound of the sonic boom could be faintly heard at the base.
The plane was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc., and The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that the company’s owner, John Rumpel, said four people were on board the plane, including his daughter, granddaughter, and the child’s nanny.