Light plane crashes after chase by jet fighters in Washington area

WASHINGTON, June 4 (Reuters) – U.S. authorities scrambled jet fighters to pursue a light aircraft that violated airspace in the Washington D.C. area and later crashed into mountainous terrain in southwest Virginia, U.S. officials said.

The jet fighters caused a sonic boom over the U.S. capital as they raced to catch up with the Cessna Citation, which can carry between seven to 12 passengers, officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said a Cessna aircraft crashed into mountainous terrain in southwest Virginia around the time the sonic boom was heard in the capital.

A U.S. official said the jet fighters did not cause the crash.

A source familiar with the matter said the Cessna was believed to be on autopilot and did not respond to authorities efforts to make contact with it.

The sonic boom caused consternation among many residents in the capital region who took to Twitter to report hearing a loud noise that shook the ground and walls. Several residents said they heard the noise as far away as northern Virginia and Maryland.

Reporting by David Lawder, Daniel Trotta, Ted Hesson, Rachael Levy and Diane Bartz; editing by Ross Colvin

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Phil Stewart

Thomson Reuters

Phil Stewart has reported from more than 60 countries, including Afghanistan, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and South Sudan. An award-winning Washington-based national security reporter, Phil has appeared on NPR, PBS NewsHour, Fox News and other programs and moderated national security events, including at the Reagan National Defense Forum and the German Marshall Fund. He is a recipient of the Edwin M. Hood Award for Diplomatic Correspondence and the Joe Galloway Award.

Ted Hesson

Thomson Reuters

Ted Hesson is an immigration reporter for Reuters, based in Washington, D.C. His work focuses on the policy and politics of immigration, asylum and border security. Prior to joining Reuters in 2019, Ted worked for the news outlet POLITICO, where he also covered immigration. His articles have appeared in POLITICO Magazine, The Atlantic and VICE News, among other publications. Ted holds a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and bachelor’s degree from Boston College.