Fighter jets scramble to intercept plane flying through D.C. airspace

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Cessna 560 Citation V for illustration purpose only.

5th June 2023 – (Washington) Fighter jets were scrambled to intercept a Cessna 560 Citation V that flew through Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia airspace on 4th June, causing a sonic boom that was heard throughout the area. F-16s based out of Joint Base Andrews took off just after 3pm Eastern Time and reached the Cessna at 3.20pm Eastern Time. Repeated attempts to communicate with the pilot, including the use of flares, were unsuccessful, and the plane eventually crashed.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command confirmed that it scrambled F-16s after the Cessna, but the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) did not mention the military planes in its earlier statement confirming that a Cessna Citation crashed in Virginia while flying on a northeastern route from Tennessee.

“The aircraft took off from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tenn., and was bound for Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York,” the FAA said in a statement. “A Cessna Citation crashed into mountainous terrain in a sparsely populated area of southwest Virginia around 3pm local time on 4th June.”

The supersonic flight caused a loud sonic boom that was heard throughout the greater Washington, D.C. area, with residents in Maryland and Virginia reporting hearing it. Before the FAA’s statement, the Annapolis Office of Emergency Management confirmed that the loud noise was “caused by an authorized DOD flight. This flight caused a sonic boom.” D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management also issued a brief statement saying that there was “no threat” at the time following the noise.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is leading the investigation into the crash and is working with the FAA. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and provide all further updates.