Sonic boom heard across DC area identified as F-16 fighter jet

A fighter jet that was trying to intercept an unresponsive small plane that flew over D.C. Sunday triggered report of a loud boom that was heard across the area. 

Reports began to come into the FOX 5 DC newsroom as well on Twitter around 3 p.m. of what sounded like an explosion as far away as Annapolis, including D.C. and Northern Virginia. 

According to FOX News, an F-16 fighter jet was "cleared supersonic to respond" to unknown Cessna ignoring radio queries flying on "strange flight path" outside nation’s capital, officials say. According to the FAA, a Cessna aircraft reportedly crashed near Staunton, Virginia which was reported earlier to FOX 5 DC

FOX News' Lucas Tomlinson obtained a statement from NORAD confirming they were dispatched to investigate "an unresponsive Cessna 560 Citation V aircraft over Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia on June 4, 2023." NORAD went on to say that "The NORAD aircraft were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region. During this event, the NORAD aircraft also used flares – which may have been visible to the public – in an attempt to draw attention from the pilot." NORAD concluded, "The civilian aircraft was intercepted at approximately 3:20 p.m. Eastern Time. The pilot was unresponsive and the Cessna subsequently crashed near the George Washington National Forest, Virginia. NORAD attempted to establish contact with the pilot until the aircraft crashed."

Multiple Tweets earlier in the afternoon stated that the noise could have been the result of an aircraft sonic boom involved in a military exercise including one from Annapolis's Office of Emergency Management. The city of Bowie also Tweeted that it was from a plane out of Joint Base Andrews. 

We also have been receiving videos and photos sent into us on Twitter, of various vantage points with sound of the explosion: