F-16's Pilot Saw Cessna's Slumped Over

Military jets were sent up after private plane that flew over DC, then crashed
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2023 6:05 PM CDT
F-16's Pilot Saw Cessna's Slumped Over
Search crews leave the command post at St. Mary's Wilderness on Sunday en route to the Blue Ridge Parkway to search for the site where a Cessna Citation crashed near Montebello, Virginia, on Sunday.   (Randall K. Wolf via AP)

The cause of the crash of a small plane in a mountainous area of Virginia on Sunday after it caused alarm while crossing over Washington, DC, remains unknown—but a military pilot has provided a clue. An F-16 pilot sent to intercept the Cessna saw the plane's pilot slumped over in his seat, the Washington Post reports. That agrees with experts' interpretation of publicly available flight data, which they said suggests the pilot became unconscious during the flight, probably because the cabin lost pressurization. The Cessna kept flying on autopilot until the fuel ran out, they believe.

Preliminary information indicates the pilot and all three passengers died "under unknown circumstances," the Federal Aviation Administration said. The people who provided the information to the Post did not want their names used because the investigation is in progress. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board team at the crash site said Monday that investigators will be working there for three or four days. "The wreckage is highly fragmented," Adam Gerhardt said. (More plane crash stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.