What caused the sonic boom in Washington DC? US officials put out a statement.

ByHarshita Bhati
Jun 05, 2023 03:36 PM IST

According to U.S. and military officials, the noise that stunned residents and trembled buildings was the result of an authorized military flight.

On 4th June, an unauthorized aircraft, identified as a Cessna 560 Citation V, breached the restricted airspace over Washington D.C. and Northern Virginia. As an emergency response, two F-16 jets were dispatched from Joint Base Andrews to intercept the fight.

Washington DC, US(Getty images)
Washington DC, US(Getty images)

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, monitors aerospace control over the United States and Canada. NORAD stated that the “ NORAD aircraft were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds”. The NORAD aircraft used flares, in an effort to attract attention of the pilot “which may have been visible to the public”. The deployment of flares is executed with utmost consideration for the safety of both the intercepted aircraft and individuals on the ground.

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Following the Cessna's deviation into the restricted area, which encompassed prominent national landmarks, the Federal Aviation Administration attempted to establish contact with the pilot but did not obtain a response, as per the officials. The military then issued orders for fighter jets to intercept the aircraft. At approximately 3:20 p.m. Eastern Time, the civilian aircraft was intercepted. Subsequently, the Cessna crashed in the George Washington National Forest, Virginia.

Military and U.S. officials have verified that the loud, explosion-like noise which resonated throughout Washington D.C. on Sunday, resulted from the authorized military flight that responded to the intrusion.

The Annapolis Office of Emergency Management tweeted, “The loud boom that was heard across the DMV area was caused by an authorized DOD flight. This flight caused a sonic boom”. Notably, a sonic boom is caused by an object which moves faster than the speed of sound or about 750 miles per hour at sea level.

Officials confirmed that the Cessna plane was not deemed a threat, and the investigation will focus on why the pilot was unresponsive to the F.A.A. It was clarified by officials that the Cessna was not shot down. A White House representative asserted that President Biden was briefed on the incident. On Sunday evening, the Virginia State Police confirmed that search operations were in progress near the Blue Ridge Parkway and Staunton, Virginia, to locate the wreckage and its occupants.

The Cessna plane was owned by Encore Motors of Melbourne, a company based in Florida. The owner of the company, John Rumpel, aged 75, revealed that his daughter, 2-year-old granddaughter, a nanny, and the pilot were on board the flight. He mentioned that they were on their way back to East Hampton, New York, after a four-day stay at his residence in North Carolina. The status of those aboard is still uncertain.

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