Residents of the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area heard a loud sonic boom that caused a bit of panic and confusion on Sunday. The noise was so thunderous that it also caused many homes to vibrate in the area. Similar to the effect of an earthquake or a vehicle crashing into the side of a brick house. Residents flooded calls to local news stations and police in an attempt to figure out what exactly was happening. The sound they heard was of F-16 fighter jets departing from Joint Base Andrews to chase down a small Cessna aircraft that violated D.C.’s airspace. The jets requested to fly at hypersonic speeds. This broke the sound barrier, creating the sonic boom heard all throughout the D.C. area.
The aircraft that the F-16s were following originated from Tennessee, near the far-western panhandle of Virginia. Its original course was set for Long Island, New York. Flight pattern data says that the plane did make it to New York, but for some reason, it made a loop and came right back toward Tennessee. The expert opinion is that the operator set the aircraft into autopilot mode to reach New York but they simply never landed. On the return to Tennessee, the aircraft flew through D.C. which promoted the response from the F-16 jets. Fighter pilots got close to the aircraft and noticed that the man inside was somehow incapacitated. The jets apparently followed the small plane until it crashed just south of Staunton, Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sonic Boom Heard Across D.C. Area Was From Military Jets – The New York Times
Sonic boom in DC: F-16 jets scrambled to intercept unresponsive plane
NORAD: Sonic boom came from F-16s intercepting private aircraft
Sonic boom as US fighter jets intercept plane that later crashed – BBC News
F-16 jets intercept an unresponsive Cessna Citation that flew over D.C. : NPR
Sonic boom heard over Washington DC after fighter jets intercept unresponsive aircraft – YouTube
Loud Sonic boom across DC, Maryland and Virginia a result of F-16 investigating wayward jet – YouTube