It wasn’t immediately clear why the plane was unresponsive, why it crashed, or how many people were on board.
A US official confirmed to the Associated Press that the military jet had rushed to respond to the small plane, which later crashed. The official was not authorized to discuss the details of the military operation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Flight tracking sites showed that the jet underwent a rapid spiral descent, at one point falling at speeds in excess of 30,000 feet per minute before crashing into the St. Mary’s desert.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command later said in a statement that the F-16 was authorized to travel at supersonic speeds, which caused a sonic boom.
« During this event, the NORAD plane also used flares — which may have been on view to the public — in an effort to get the pilot’s attention, » the statement said. “Rockets are used with the utmost care for the safety of intercepted planes and people on the ground. Rockets burn out quickly and completely and there is no danger to people on the ground when fired. »
The plane that crashed was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc. A woman who identified herself as Barbara Rumpel, who is listed as the company’s president in Melbourne, Fla., said she had no comment Sunday when she was reached by a reporter from The Associated Press.
President Joe Biden was playing golf at Joint Base Andrews when the fighter jet took off. Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the US Secret Service, said the incident had no impact on the president’s movements on Sunday. Biden was playing golf at the Maryland military base with his brother in the afternoon.
A White House official said, “The president has been notified of the incident. Resulting sound from cleared DOD aircraft was faint at the JBA.
The Pentagon and the DC Air National Guard did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Sunday.