Wreckage Located After Plane Crash in Virginia

Authorities say no survivors found after plane spurred military to scramble F-16 fighter jets
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2023 12:48 AM CDT
Updated Jun 5, 2023 5:55 AM CDT
Military Scrambles F-16s as Plane Flies Over DC, Unresponsive
Search and rescue teams leave the command post at St. Mary's Wilderness en route to the Blue Ridge Parkway to search for the site where a Cessna Citation crashed over mountainous terrain near Montebello, Va., Sunday, June 4, 2023.   (Randall K. Wolf via AP)
UPDATE Jun 5, 2023 5:55 AM CDT

The wreckage of a private Cessna plane that crashed in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley on Sunday was located later that evening, and authorities say no survivors have been found, per CNN. The Virginia State Police say the identity of those on the plane, which prompted the military to scramble fighter jets to try to intercept it after its pilot became unresponsive, will be released as more information is made available. However, John Rumpel, owner of Encore Motors, believes the plane was one of his and tells the Washington Post that his "entire family" was on board, including his daughter, 2-year-old granddaughter, and her nanny. Per the AP, the FAA says the plane was headed from Elizabethton, Tennessee, to Long Island's MacArthur Airport, but that "inexplicably, the plane turned around over New York's Long Island and flew a straight path down over DC before it crashed over mountainous terrain."

Jun 5, 2023 12:48 AM CDT

It was a scary situation in the skies over Washington, DC, Sunday afternoon, when the military scrambled fighter jets due to a business plane that veered off-course into restricted airspace and was unresponsive when the Federal Aviation Administration tried to communicate with it. The private Cessna plane ultimately crashed in Virginia. Meanwhile, the military's F-16 jets caused a sonic boom that was heard across much of the nation's capital when they were deployed to attempt to intercept the Cessna, the New York Times reports. The F-16s did not shoot down the Cessna, which crashed near the George Washington National Forest, CNN reports. Sources tell the Washington Post the jets used flares in an attempt to get the Cessna pilot's attention, but did not cause the crash.

It's not clear what happened, but the private business jet was owned by the Florida-based Encore Motors of Melbourne, which is run by John Rumpel, 75. He says his daughter, 2-year-old granddaughter, and the girl's nanny were aboard the flight along with the pilot, returning home to New York after visiting him and his wife in North Carolina, and that he hopes no one suffered. An emotional Rumpel suggested that the plane could have lost pressurization, in which case "they all just would have gone to sleep and never woke up." The wreckage has not yet been found, but a search is underway. President Biden was playing golf at Joint Base Andrews during the incident, and his movements were not impacted by it, the AP reports. (More Washington, DC stories.)

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