A Florida businessman and prominent political donor has identified himself as the owner of a Cessna jetliner that sparked a panic as it flew in restricted US airspace over Washington, DC on Sunday, before crashing in the Virginia desert, according to a report.
The plane, which authorities say was piloted by a person who lost consciousness, sparked an air pursuit with Pentagon jets, triggering a sonic boom that could be heard throughout the DC area, authorities said.
According to federal aviation records, the plane was registered to Encore Motors of Melbourne, a Florida-based company owned by John and Barbara Rumpel, although neither was on board at the time of the crash.
In a brief interview with the washington post, John Rumpel confirmed that he was the owner of Encore and said that “his entire family” was on the plane at the time, including his daughter, a grandson and his nanny.
“We don’t know anything about the accident,” he said. “We are talking to the FAA now. … I have to keep the line clear.”
When contacted by The Daily Beast, Barbara Rumpel, who is listed as chairwoman of Encore Motors in Melbourne, declined to comment.
Pentagon jets chased down Cessna pilot over DC before crash
Both Barbara and her husband, prominent Florida businessmen, have donated to a variety of Republican candidates for federal office in recent years, including hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to former President Donald Trump and his political organization, according to the Federal Records Commission. Election viewed by The Daily Beast.
The couple donated a combined $250,000 to the Trump Victory PAC in 2020 alone. Then, just two years later, Barbara made a series of donations to controversial candidates, including $2,900 to Georgia Senate hopeful Herschel Walker and $500 to Florida Congresswoman Laura Loomer, a far-right influencer known for making anti-Muslim statements.
Barbara also has direct ties to the Trump Administration. She was listed as co-chair of a gun rights campaign organization supporting the former president’s 2016 candidacy, called the “Trump-Pence Second Amendment Coalition.”
A longtime member of the National Rifle Committee, Barbara has also been on the NRA’s Women’s Leadership Council since 2002 and spent more than six years as a member of the executive committee, according to her LinkedIn profile.
The couple committed their commercial real estate portfolio to a trust for the benefit of the organization, according to a statement they posted on the NRA’s website.
“We want to leave a legacy that helps preserve this country as we know it and as it should be,” Barbara wrote at the time.
Sunday’s flight began when the plane, a Cessna Citation, took off on a flight from Tennessee to Long Island, New York, the FAA said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
The flight failed to attract attention until it entered restricted airspace near the United States Capitol, prompting a swift response from the Pentagon. At least one F-16 was scrambled and quickly went supersonic, triggering an explosion that shocked residents across the region.
“The civil aircraft was intercepted at approximately 3:20 p.m.,” the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said shortly after the incident.
One of the Pentagon pilots saw that the Cessna operator had “blacked out,” a US official told ABC News, a narrative later confirmed by both the US Capitol Police and NORAD. .
Shortly after being intercepted, the plane crashed in the Virginia desert.
It is unclear what caused the pilot to lose consciousness, although both the FAA and NTSB are investigating the crash.
It was not clear if there were any survivors.
Read more at The Daily Beast.
Get the Daily Beast’s biggest scoops and scandals delivered straight to your inbox. Register now.
Stay informed and get unlimited access to Daily Beast’s unmatched reports. Sign up now.