NEW INFORMATION: The Coast Guard has suspended the search for a pilot who lost consciousness and crashed a small airplane into the Atlantic Ocean off the Virginia shore.
Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn says the search was halted Sunday morning after a civilian boater recovered a wheel and engine cowling from the single-engine Cirrus. Littlejohn says the chances of finding anything else were slim.
The pilot of a small airplane apparently lost consciousness while flying Saturday afternoon and flew into restricted airspace over Washington, D.C., before crashing into the Atlantic Ocean, federal officials said.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn says crews are searching for the plane. It crashed Saturday at 3:17 p.m. about 50 miles southeast of Wallops Island, Virginia, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Littlejohn says the Coast Guard in Portsmouth was notified about 2:40 p.m. that the plane had failed to land in Manassas, Virginia, and continued into restricted air space in Washington, D.C.
The pilot had failed to answer radio calls since 1 p.m., according to the FAA.
Two Air Force F-16 jets were scrambled to intercept the plane, according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command. The jet pilots confirmed the pilot of the small plane was unconscious; the F-16s stayed with the plane until it eventually ran out of fuel and crashed.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson says the plane was heading from Waukesha, Wisconsin, to Manassas. It was a Cirrus SR20, the FAA said.
Littlejohn says no one else was aboard the plane.