4 things to know about the sonic boom, deadly plane crash in Virginia

1. The sound was caused by an attempt to reach an unresponsive aircraft. 

In a statement released Sunday, the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region announced that a NORAD F-16 fighter aircraft responded to an unresponsive Cessna 560 Citation V aircraft that flew over restricted airspace in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia. 

"The NORAD aircraft were authorized to travel at supersonic speeds and a sonic boom may have been heard by residents of the region," the statement added.

"During this event, the NORAD also used flares — which may have been visible by the public — in an attempt to draw attention from the pilot. Flares are employed with highest regard for safety of the intercepted aircraft and people on the ground. Flares burn out quickly and completely and there is no danger to the people on the ground when dispensed."

The U.S. Air Force defines a "sonic boom" as "an impulsive noise similar to thunder" that is "caused by an object moving faster than sound — about 750 miles per hour at sea level."

Sonic booms typically last for less than a second and are caused by the "sudden onset and release of pressure after the buildup by the shock wave" generated by flights moving at supersonic speed. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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