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Blaine Holt to Newsmax: 'Kudos' to Air Force For Response to Doomed Plane

By    |   Monday, 05 June 2023 09:54 AM EDT

An Air Force fighter-jet response deserves "kudos" for its quick scramble to intercede when a Cessna plane violated airspace around Washington, D.C., retired Air Force Brigadier Gen. Blaine Holt said Monday.

Appearing on Newsmax's "Wake Up America," Holt described the Sunday incident as eerily recalling the attacks in New York and Washington D.C., on Sept. 11, 2001.

"This thing got up to where it was supposed to go in New York — and then started to 180 degree turn," Holt said. "That sounds like the autopilot was doing that. ... It's just going to go back to where it came from."

But, Holt said, "by that time our great F-16 intercepts got up there to take a look at it, tried to get the pilot's attention, [they] couldn't do it."

He noted the 180-degree turn "triggered a lot of systems, for good reason.

"You can imagine going back to 9/11, watching airplanes go where they're not supposed to, and that's what alerted the whole system," Holt said. "But for the Air Force — wow, kudos — they just got right up there and got right on it."

The Cessna crashed near the George Washington National Forest in Virginia. There were no survivors.

"The jet took off out of Tennessee was on its way to New York and had a family of three and then a pilot onboard," Holt said.

As the plane reached the New York area, it made the nearly 180-degree turn.

"The sad part is ... it does appear we're going to find out that the pilot was incapacitated," Holt said.

The Cessna was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne, Florida, according to the flight-tracking website Flight Aware. Encore owner John Rumpel reportedly said his daughter, a grandchild, and her nanny were on board.

The military tried without success to contact the pilot, North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement.

Holt noted that the National Transportation Safety Board "does a really, really good job here" in investigations of such crashes.

"The black boxes will indicate everything that happened," he said, adding some reporting suggests the pilot "may have had a medical problem and may have passed out."

"That's going to raise questions about solo flight in in business jets like this," he said.

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An Air Force fighter-jet response deserves "kudos" for its quick scramble to intercede when a Cessna plane violated airspace around Washington, D.C., retired Air Force Brigadier Gen. Blaine Holt said Monday.
blaine holt, airspace, washington, air force, cessna, crashed, virginia
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Monday, 05 June 2023 09:54 AM
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