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Sonic boom heard throughout Central Maryland caused by NORAD jets pursuing ‘unresponsive aircraft,’ officials say

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. fly in formation over the shores of Lake Superior. (Photo by Photo by Master Sgt. Jason Rolfe, 148th Fighter Wing/Released)
June 05, 2023

A large boom that shook houses in the Annapolis area Sunday and was heard throughout the state was caused by military fighter jets following an “unresponsive” aircraft that later crashed in Virginia, according to defense officials.

The noise came from F-16 fighter aircraft that “were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds” as they pursued a civilian business jet over D.C. and Virginia after 3 p.m. Sunday, according to a news release from the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

NORAD attempted to contact the aircraft’s pilot, who was unresponsive until the jet crashed near the George Washington National Forest in southwestern Virginia, the air defense force said.

Some felt the shock wave of the boom as far as Brooklyn and Davidsonville, and across the bay in Grasonville, residents wrote on Facebook on Sunday.

Kevin Simmons, director of the Annapolis Office of Emergency Management, said calls started streaming into the city’s 911 center after the boom. His office promptly tweeted that the noise came from a military aircraft.

“The loud boom that was heard across the [District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia] area was caused by an authorized DOD flight. This flight caused a sonic boom,” the department said in a tweet. “That is all the information available at this time.”

Annapolis firefighters responded and found no damage to buildings. “There is no evidence of explosions,” Simmons said.

The military flight originated from Joint Base Andrews, the City of Bowie tweeted, noting that the boom was heard in the Prince George’s County municipality.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the business jet, an Cessna 560 Citation V aircraft, was flying to New York from Tennessee and crashed into “mountainous terrain” near Montebello, Virginia at about 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

The FAA said it will investigate the crash, as will the National Transportation Safety Board. The aviation agency directed questions about the conditions of those aboard the business jet to local authorities, who did not immediately reply to requests to comment on the matter.

An NTSB spokesperson said the board was aware of the crash but did not have further details Sunday evening.


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