U.S. officials scrambled fighter jets to chase an unresponsive civilian aircraft near Washington, D.C. airspace Sunday, according to an online statement.

The plane became unresponsive over northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, more commonly known as NORAD.

The NORAD aircraft were authorized to travel at supersonic speed, creating a loud blast heard throughout Maryland, D.C. and Virginia. The jets reached the Cessna 560 Citation V at approximately 3:20 p.m.

In an attempt to rouse the unresponsive pilot’s attention, the jets launched flares within view of the craft. Attempts to reach the pilot were unsuccessful, and the plane later crashed around 3:30 p.m. near Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, according to statements from the Federal Aviation Administration.

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The sonic boom caused by the NORAD jets startled many people across the region Sunday afternoon, shaking houses in the Broadneck Peninsula of Anne Arundel County and being heard as far away as Manassas, Virginia.

The noise happened just after 3 p.m.

The Annapolis Office of Emergency Management tweeted a public service announcement sharing what city officials learned after receiving 911 calls from alarmed and curious citizens reporting the boom, according to spokeswoman Nicole Reibert.

Reibert said she wrote the tweet as soon as she received the notification from the Annapolis Police Department.

“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,” the post read.

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The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash and provide updates, according to a statement. The NTSB did not provide additional information Sunday afternoon and deferred to the FAA’s statement.

The downed Cessna Citation was headed for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York after departing from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee.


Brenda Wintrode covers state government, agencies and politics. Before joining The Baltimore Banner, Wintrode wrote an award winning series of long form investigations for Wisconsin Watch.

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