The U.S. Coast Guard said the single-engine aircraft’s pilot, who was the sole person aboard, appeared to have been unconscious while the plane was flying southeast at an altitude of approximately 13,000 feet. The plane flew through restricted air space in Washington, D.C. and eventually across all of Virginia’s eastern shore.
The plane ran out of its fuel eventually and subsequently crashed into the ocean approximately 50 miles off the coast said the Coast Guard.
Federal Aviation Administration officials said the airplane was a Cirrus SR22. The FAA reported it had departed Wisconsin and had been headed to Manassas, a trip of approximately 630 miles.
The FAA also reported that the pilot was not responding to calls on the radio since 1:00 p.m. The plane eventually crashed into the Atlantic at 3:17 p.m., said the FAA.
Two F-16 fighter jets were scrambled and flew next to the plane to investigate it after it entered the restricted airspace in Washington, D.C.
The two fighter jets escorted the small aircraft until it crashed into the ocean, said the Coast Guard.
The airmen were able to get close enough to the small plane to see the pilot was unconscious.
A spokesperson for the Aerospace Defense Command of North America said the two pilots of the F-16s saw the pilot of the Cirrus slumped down over the controls and could not get him to respond.
Authorities have not yet identified the pilot. It was not known what was the cause of the pilot losing consciousness and the crash is being investigated the FAA and Coast Guard.
Crews searched the Atlantic for the Cirrus plane after it crashed 50 miles from Chincoteague Island.
The aircraft was registered in the name of Ronald Hutchinson from Brookfield, Wisconsin. No one at the home with his phone listing would make a comment when reached by telephone.
A helicopter from the Coast Guard could not find any sign of the aircraft in the waters and a cutter was heading toward the crash site.