The story behind the sonic boom heard over Washington DC on Sunday has been revealed after alarming reports surface of unresponsive plane entering restricted airspace.
On Sunday afternoon, a Cessna aircraft, whose pilot and passengers were unresponsive, flew into restricted airspace and quickly triggered the deployment of fighter jets.
The Pentagon F-16s went supersonic to reach the unresponsive plane, which startled residents in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland who heard the boom caused by the jets breaking supersonic speed.
My wife and I were recording a song on an iPhone and captured the boom 💥 in Fairfax VA pic.twitter.com/US7Bcfl8b5
— literal mastodon (@Travisagainst) June 4, 2023
— Jared McQueen (@goodguyguybrush) June 4, 2023
As news about the sonic boom spread, Americans grew even more concerned after reports emerged that the DC National Guard had “cleared supersonic” to respond to an unknown Cessna that was ignoring radio queries and flying on a “strange flight path” outside the nation’s capital.
In a statement, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said, “The civilian aircraft was intercepted at approximately 3:20 p.m.”
“The NORAD aircraft were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region,” NORAD added.
NORAD stated that multiple attempts were made to gain the pilot’s attention, including the use of flares. However, no success was had in alerting the pilot who was reportedly “passed out.”
After confirming that the pilot was unresponsive, the jet was monitored until it crashed into mountainous terrain near the George Washington National Forest in Virginia.
It was later revealed that the plane was owned by John Rumpel, a Florida businessman and owner of Encore Motors.
Rumpel is also a prominent donor to conservative political campaigns. He has made large donations to both Donald Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign and Ron DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign.
The victims of the plane crash included Rumpel’s 49-year-old daughter, Adina Azarian, her two-year-old daughter, and the family nanny.
Adina, a Hamptons luxury realtor, and her daughter had been flying from Tennessee to their home in East Hampton.
Speaking to The New York Times after the crash, a heartbroken Rumpel revealed that his daughter and granddaughter had just spent four days with him at his home in North Carolina.
Rumpel, a trained pilot, believes the plane could have lost pressurization in the air, causing his family and the pilot to lose consciousness.
“They all just would have gone to sleep and never woke up,” Rumpel said.