Locals in the capital and surrounding areas were perplexed until later revelations of further information. This is a representational image. D-Keine/Gettyimages

On Sunday afternoon, a private plane entered restricted airspace and subsequently crashed, leading to a sonic boom heard across the Washington DC area. Tragically, all four individuals on board the plane lost their lives.

The incident unfolded when two F-16 fighter jets were quickly dispatched from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland after the unresponsive aircraft entered restricted airspace. This action took place around 3 p.m., as confirmed by the Department of Defense.

The deafening sonic boom perplexed residents in Washington DC and neighboring communities until additional details emerged.

The F-16 fighter jets were deployed to intercept the private Cessna jet, which had violated restricted airspace over the capital. The situation took a tragic turn when the Cessna crashed violently in southwest Virginia.

According to a US official cited by ABC News, the fighter jet pilots discovered that the pilot of the private plane had lost consciousness.

Police reported that rescuers reached the remote location of the plane crash in Shenandoah Valley hours later, reaching the site on foot. Unfortunately, no survivors were found.

As per the Federal Aviation Administration, the aircraft took off from Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, with its intended destination being Long Island MacArthur Airport in New York.

Flight-tracking website Flight Aware revealed that the plane had initially headed towards the New York area but then abruptly changed course, making an almost 180-degree turn and flying towards Virginia.

The reasons behind the plane's lack of response and subsequent crash remain unclear, New York Post reported.

The aircraft descended rapidly, with a staggering rate of descent exceeding 30,000 feet per minute before ultimately crashing.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the Cessna seemed to be operating on autopilot.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, as reported by the New York Times, stated in a later statement that the two F-16s were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds, resulting in the sonic boom that reverberated throughout the area.

According to the owner of the company that registered the plane, the tragic flight included his daughter, 2-year-old granddaughter, their nanny, and the pilot. They were en route to their residence in East Hampton when the incident occurred.

John Rumpel, from Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc, shared that they were returning to New York after visiting him in North Carolina.

While he didn't possess extensive details, he speculated that the plane might have experienced a loss of pressurization.

Many others took to Twitter to express their confusion at the explosion that shook their homes after hearing the sonic boom, which happens when a car crosses the speed of sound at 767 mph, which was audible throughout the nation's capital and communities in Maryland and northern Virginia.

Local Matt Cox tweeted after the blast, "It was loud enough to shake my f—king coffee table."
"Thank God there isn't an infant in the house."

The National Capital Region heard the explosion, according to a statement from Washington's Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency earlier in the day, but "there is no threat at this time."

The Cessna was not shot down by a military plane, according to officials.

The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA are both looking into the collision.

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