Published: Sun, August 12, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Plane crashes after airline employee’s solo ‘unauthorized takeoff’ from Seattle airport

Plane crashes after airline employee’s solo ‘unauthorized takeoff’ from Seattle airport

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor described the incident as a "joyride gone terribly wrong", adding that the pilot "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life".

A Horizon Air ground service agent got into a Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft on Friday night in a maintenance area at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and took off, Horizon sister carrier Alaska Airline said.

Military jets had been scrambled to chase the plane, according to the Times.

The airport made a simple response to the plane that was stolen by a lone employee, in a post on the Sea-Tac official Twitter account.

"There were some maneuvers that were done that were incredible maneuvers with the aircraft", Beck said. "We're just trying to find a place for you to land safely".

The man could reportedly be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is "just a broken guy". At one point he says he had been hoping for a "moment of serenity".

"Even just ground people working on the planes, they have access to inside the planes on ramp", Stratman said.

"I appreciate the quick reaction and professionalism of our airmen and the entire NORAD team who were on alert today, as they are every day of the year", Gen. Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said Friday night in a statement. But he also apologized to the people who cared about him, calling himself "a broken guy" with "a few screws loose".

He then said: "I wouldn't know how to land - I wasn't really planning on landing it".

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air officials said they were still working closely with authorities to investigate what happened. It did not elaborate.

"This is probably jail time for life, huh? But could you start a left-hand turn, please?"

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Erroll Southers, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and transportation security expert, told the Associated Press, that the man later identified as Russell likely had some pilot training and military craft that could have prevented a tragedy.

"Nah, I mean, I don't need that much help".

The man, who was called Rich by air traffic control personnel, is an Alaska Air Horizon employee who allegedly stole a Horizon Air Q400, shutting down the airport temporarily.

The man responds: "Awwww-right ... dammit".

"I don't know man", Rich said. "I don't know what the burnage is like on takeoff, but it burned quite a bit faster than I expected".

He flew it for an hour, followed by two armed F-15 jets from OR that the military scrambled, before he crashed. They pursued the aircraft before it went down on Ketron Island, between Tacoma and Olympia. He said 30 to 40 investigators were interviewing the pilot's co-workers and family members. The jets' capability was appropriate to the potential task, one of the sources said, without offering details.

Although authorities have not released his name, The Seattle Times identified the man as Richard Russell. He said the military planes were not involved in the crash.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the fighter pilots for keeping residents safe. However, "Rich" also later tells them that he can't figure out how to pressurize the plane and that he's getting "lightheaded" after having vomited at least once.

Alaska Airlines said no structures on the ground were damaged.

The plane was seen by a number of witnesses doing stunts before crashing. "Witnesses said a. plane is going down. We have no indication of any casualties other than the person on the plane".

A ground service agent's tasks don't involve touching planes' controls, CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo said. Russell said he was having a "blast" and had learned to fly from video games.

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