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Listen to Air Traffic Control As Supersonic F-16s Try To Intercept A Plane Over Virginia

The jets caused a sonic boom over much of the Capitol region after an unresponsive Cessna flew too close to D.C.

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U.S. Air Force F16 fighter jets fly in formation during U.S.-Philippines joint air force exercises dubbed Cope Thunder at Clark Air Base on May 09, 2023 in Mabalacat, Pampanga province, Philippines.
This photo is not from the Cessna crash and sonic boom over D.C.
Photo: Ezra Acayan (Getty Images)

Air traffic controllers on the East Coast were tasked with clearing airspace for two F-16 fighters attempting to intercept a wayward business jet that flew over Washington, D.C. on June 4th. One of the jets, leaving from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, caused a loud sonic boom that was heard across the DMV.

Through an ATC recording posted by a Twitter user, we can hear one F-16, Zulu COSMIC 01/02, get clearance to depart and scramble from Atlantic City. You can also hear another F-16, BRAVE 01/02, attempt to make contact with the troubled Cessna Citation with little success. That plane eventually crashed in the Shenandoah Valley region of Virginia, killing everyone onboard.


According to the Associated Press, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement that the F-16 from Andrews was authorized to travel at supersonic speeds, and that ended up causing the sonic boom that was heard in D.C. as well as parts of Virginia and Maryland.


Oddly, President Joe Biden happened to be playing golf with his brother at Joint Base Andrews around the time the fighter took off, according to AP. However, a spokesperson for the U.S. Secret Service said the incident didn’t have any impact on the President’s movements on Sunday.

The Federal Aviation Administration says the Cessna took off from Elizabethton, Tennessee earlier in the day on Sunday, and it was heading for MacArthur Airport on Long Island, according to the AP. For some unknown reason, it then turned around over Long Island and flew a straight path down over D.C. before crashing around 3:30 p.m. The outlet reports that the Cessna apparently suffered a rapid spiraling descent, and at one point it was dropping at a rate of over 30,000 feet per minute before crashing. Rescuers weren’t able to get to the site for another four hours, and they had to travel on foot.

AP reports the plane that crashed was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc, a company based in Florida. John Rumpel, who runs the company, reportedly said his daughter, two-year-old granddaughter, her nanny and the pilot were aboard the plane when it crashed. The group was returning to their home in East Hampton, on Long Island, after visiting Rumpel’s house in North Carolina.