The Cessna private jet that crashed in Virginia yesterday after scaring off Pentagon officials and scrambling two F-16 jets was likely flying on autopilot when it made a mysterious U-turn to Washington DC after pressure from the cabin failed and knocked everyone on board unconscious.
The jet was carrying Adina Azarian, her two-year-old daughter Aria, their nanny and the pilot, who has yet to be named.
It took off at 1:13 p.m. from Elizabethton Airport in Tennessee and was scheduled to land at MacArthur Airport in Islip, Long Island.
The plane instead approached MacArthur, but then turned around at 2:45 p.m. and flew south again, alerting DC officials.
No one on board responded to calls from the ground, prompting two F-16 fighter jets from Joint Base Andrews to rush alongside to investigate.
They flew with such speed that a sonic boom was heard over parts of DC and Virginia.
The jet was carrying Adina Azarian, her two-year-old daughter, their nanny and the pilot, who has yet to be named. It took off at 1:13 p.m. from Elizabethton Airport in Tennessee and was scheduled to land at MacArthur Airport in Islip, Long Island. Instead it flew north then did a U-turn then crashed in Virginia
Adina Azarian and her two-year-old daughter Aria died in the accident. They were traveling with their nanny, who has not yet been named, but who also died
Once in the air, F-16 pilots reported seeing the Cessna pilot collapsed in the cockpit. Within moments, the Cessna crashed, plummeting at a terrifying speed of 2,800 feet per minute in St Mary’s Wilderness, about 175 miles southwest of Washington DC.
While the tragedy is still under investigation, aviation experts told DailyMail.com it was likely due to a cabin pressure failure which caused the pilot to pass out – and all the others – due to a lack of oxygen.
As the plane approached Long Island, rather than landing, it turned south.
Kyle Bailey, a former FAA safety team representative, told DailyMail.com it was likely the result of the pilot scheduling his route.
“What appears to have happened as the plane flew towards Islip was ‘very high.
“They very well could have been incapacitated [by then]. The pilot has waypoints in the program, it’s similar to a GPS system. So the autopilot could have flown it to Islip, and then the next point could very well have been the airport they departed from.
“It could have been towards DC or somewhere down south. Looks like it was affixed in that direction.
“In this scenario, it is likely that the plane was flying itself.”
Azarian’s two-year-old daughter, seen here with her mother in a recent photo, also died in the crash
Adina’s adoptive parents are prominent GOP donors John and Barbara Rumpel shown with Trump in March 2020
Barbara Rumpel announced the death of her daughter and granddaughter yesterday
“It’s most likely a loss of cabin pressure or the pilot became incapacitated. He could have had a heart attack or something, but judging by the fact that there was no emergency calls from passengers we know, I’m leaning more towards a loss of cabin pressure.
“It usually happens in older planes,” Kyle Bailey, a former FAA safety team representative, told DailyMail.com.
The Cessna involved was a Cessna Citation V 560 manufactured in 1990. It belonged to the company run by John and Barbara Rumpel, Adina’s adoptive parents, who confirmed his death and that of his daughter.
A plane made that long ago would be considered old in aviation terms, Bailey said.
“It wouldn’t have the latest and greatest technology, airplanes really evolved around the year 2000, that’s when the technology got really crazy,” Bailey said.
These planes have a “complicated” network of pressure relief valves that could have failed. It could have been sudden or gradual.
An interior of a Cessna Citation V560, which is the same type of plane that crashed yesterday
The Cessna plummeted at a terrifying 2,800 feet per minute once it ran out of fuel
“When you’re up there it might take a few seconds, but if it’s very slow it can come on as slowly as you get tired and then eventually pass out.
“It’s interesting, it probably happened quite quickly because the pilot, if he was feeling ill or even slightly ill, he would probably want to land at a closer airport.”
By the time the F-16s were scrambled, the plane was likely out of fuel, he said.
“The timing works perfectly. The crash happened about an hour after flying over Islip and there’s about 45 minutes of fuel left, so that works perfectly with the theory that he ran out of fuel.
‘It was just by chance that he ran out of fuel just as he entered [the DC] area.’
At 3:20 p.m., the F-16 jets were in the air.
At 3:22 p.m., the Cessna crashed into St Mary’s Wilderness in the Shenandoah Valley.
The impact was so violent that it left a “crater” in the ground.
“That rate of descent, 2,800 feet per minute, is everybody’s worst nightmare,” Bailey said.
“But they probably wouldn’t have been aware, so it wouldn’t have been painful for anyone.
Azarian has been described by colleagues as an “iconic” real estate agent working in the Hamptons and New York.
Two F-16 jets from Joint Base Andrews approached the jet and attempted to get the pilot’s attention, but he was unconscious
He added that it was too early to rule out that the pilot had become incapacitated on his own and that others on board simply did not know how to sound the alarm.
Azarian, 49, was a successful realtor in New York and the Hamptons.
She ran her own business for years, but had recently found success at Keller Williams.
In an internal memo obtained by DailyMail.com, the company described her as “iconic.”
“It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we bring you the tragic news of the untimely passing of our dear colleague, Adina Azarian, and her daughter, Aria. We are devastated by this profound loss and wanted to contact you to inform and express our deepest condolences,” said.
‘Adina was an exceptional member of our Keller Williams Points North team, as well as the original team leader of Keller Williams NYC, known for her dedication, professionalism and warm spirit.
“Her dynamic personality and unwavering commitment to her clients sets her apart in the real estate industry.
“Adina’s passion for her work and genuine concern for others has touched the lives of many, making her an invaluable asset to our team at Keller Williams Points North.
‘She will be greatly missed.’
Friends told local Hamptons outlet 27 East how she fought to have Aria and raise her as a single mother.
“His daughter was his world – she was such a loving mother and they were so happy. I was friends with her when she was pregnant and she was so excited to get pregnant and then have this beautiful baby girl.
“I am still in shock. I just saw her at the grocery store and she was so happy. I can’t believe she left.