Before the crash, the pilot of the doomed Virginia 'ghost plane' was seen slumped over.

Military jets flying at supersonic speeds to catch up to the doomed flight saw the pilot of the "ghost plane" that crashed in Virginia on Sunday "slumped over" in his seat.

The Pentagon dispatched six F-16 fighter jets from Joint Base Andrews to race towards the private Cessna after it veered into restricted space around Washington, DC — and one of the pilots got close enough to the errant aircraft to peer into the cockpit window and see that the pilot was out cold in the left seat, according to the North American Aerospace Defence Command.

It appears that a catastrophic event may have occurred about 15 minutes into the flight, as the jet was flying over Virginia for the first time.

“The NORAD pilots visually inspected the Cessna as it was still airborne and confirmed that the pilot was unresponsive. NORAD pilots described the Cessna pilot as being slumped over,” read a statement.

Aviation experts have suggested the plane may have lost pressurization, leading to the pilot and his three passengers losing consciousness while the aircraft eerily continued on autopilot around 34,000 feet until it ran out of fuel and nosedived into a mountainous, heavily wooded area around 3:30 p.m., killing all aboard.

The pilot, who has yet to be identified, was flying from Tennessee to the Hamptons on Long Island with realtor Adina Azarian, her 2-year-old daughter, Aria, and the tot’s nanny when the plane made a near-180 degree turn as it got to New York.

Adina Azarian and Aria were visiting the realtor's parents in North Carolina and flying home to East Hampton.
Adina Azarian and her daughter Aria were visiting the realtor’s parents in North Carolina and flying home to East Hampton when their plane crashed.

The plane likely was on autopilot, given that it made no attempt to descend at Long Island’s MacArthur Airport and instead appeared to go back to Tennessee, Jeff Guzzetti, a former Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigator, told The Washington Post.

“Whatever happened, happened at altitude, which is a critical location to lose pressurization,” Guzzetti told the outlet. “The higher up in altitude you are, the less time you have to get on oxygen.”

He added that the flight’s last minutes indicate the plane ran out of fuel.

Officials have said the Cessna pilot did not respond when the plane veered off course and into restricted airspace around Washington, prompting the fighter jets to scramble.

The government considered the situation so urgent at the time that it took the rare step of allowing the jets to fly at supersonic speeds, causing a sonic boom that rattled residents across the region.

Officials had to go off on foot to the site where a private plane crashed near Raphine, Virginia.
Officials had to go off on foot to the site where a private plane crashed near Raphine, Va.
Randall K. Wolf

The military jets encountered the wayward plane around 3:20 p.m. about 20 miles northeast of Reagan Airport, the Washington Post said.

As the Cessna began its chaotic descent, it dropped more than 30,000 feet per minute before crashing about 3:30 p.m. in a remote area near the Blue Ridge Parkway around Raphine.

John Rumpel, 75, of Encore Motors of Melbourne Inc., confirmed that his daughter and granddaughter were aboard the plane, which his company recently acquired. He said they had been visiting him in North Carolina and were headed back to their East Hampton home when they died.

Rumpel, a pilot himself, said that if it’s true everyone aboard the flight became unconscious, “They all just would have gone to sleep and never woke up.”

The family was aboard a Cessna private plane, which was not required to hold a black box.
Four people were aboard the Cessna private plane, which was not required to have a black box.
PA Images via Getty Images
First responders at the scene said the crash left a crater with few recognizable pieces of the plane.
First responders at the scene said the crash left a crater, with few recognizable pieces of the plane.
The investigation and search for the plane's pieces has been difficult given the wooded, mountain area.
The search for the plane’s pieces has been difficult given the heavily wooded, remote area where it crashed.
AFP via Getty Images

That also would mean the pilot and passengers would have been spared knowing their fate.

First responders described a grisly scene when they arrived on foot to the crash location, about 160 miles southwest of the capital, on Sunday around 8 p.m..

The horrific crash site had at most only four recognizable pieces from the plane, with a first responder telling CNN: “There was nothing really bigger than your arm.”

NTSB investigator Adam Gerhardt told reporters Monday that the “highly fragmented” wreckage and the fact that the scene is extremely remote in a heavily wooded, mountainous region makes it “a very challenging accident site.”

The fatal crash killed New York real estate agent Adina Azarian and her 2-year-old daughter, Aria.
The jet crash killed New York real-estate agent Adina Azarian and her 2-year-old daughter, Aria.

The Cessna was not required to have a black box, which would have recorded the moments leading up to the crash, but investigators will search in the hopes there was one, Gerhardt said.

Investigators are currently gathering information from radar, weather data, the plane’s maintenance records and the pilot’s medical records for clues.

Gerhardt added that a preliminary report on the crash could be out in about 10 days, although a final report would likely take one to two years.

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