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United States: two fighter jets intervene in the sky of Washington to intercept a private jet, which crashes in Virginia


A supersonic boom sounded Sunday, June 4, in Washington, when two fighter jets sought to intercept an unresponsive aircraft before it crashed in the state of Virginia. Residents of the federal capital of the United States and its suburbs have reported hearing a thunderous noise that shook windows and walls for miles around and raised many questions on social networks.

Two F-16 fighters were mobilized due to a lack of response from a private jet “Cessna 560 Citation V over Washington and Northern Virginia”, described the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in a press release. The two fighter jets took off from the Andrews base in Maryland, a Pentagon official told Agence France-Presse, to join the aircraft which then crashed in a mountainous area in the south-west. West Virginia.

President Joe Biden, who was in the area on Sunday, was briefed on the incident, a White House official told reporters, without specifying whether precautionary measures had been taken.

A priori four people on board

The civil aircraft had taken off from Elizabethton, Tennessee, to reach Long Island, New York, according to the American Civil Aviation Authority (FAA).

NORAD fighters “were allowed to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom could be heard by residents of the area”, described the command in a press release. Sonic booms occur when a device breaks the sound barrier. They can surprise the population and cause damage, in particular by breaking windows.

NORAD said it had sought to establish contact with the pilot before the plane crashed, intercepting him around 3:20 p.m. local time. The aircraft also threw decoys in an attempt to get the pilot’s attention. The aircraft ultimately crashed near Montebello, Va., about 270 miles southwest of Washington, around 3:30 p.m. local time, the FAA reported. The military did not shoot down the plane, several US media reported.

The crashed jet was registered to a Florida-based company. John Rumpel, who runs the company, told the New York Times that her daughter, her 2-year-old granddaughter, her nanny and the pilot were on the plane. They were returning home to East Hampton, Long Island, after visiting him in North Carolina.

The World with AFP