Local pilot reacts to stolen Horizon airplane

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"If this pilot, instead of doing what he ended up doing, had wanted to crash the airplane into downtown Seattle, the fighter (jets) were not going to be able to stop him; air traffic control was not going to stop him", Green said.

"There is the runway just off to your right side in about a mile", the controller told him.

The man sounds calm at times and jokes with operators on the ground, who try to direct him to places to land.

According to the Pierce County Sheriff's office, the suspected hijacker is a 29-year-old airline mechanic, who allegedly performed aerial stunts with the plane. "The situation was not their fault but I think they could have given a little more guidance or announced to the plane this is what's going on instead of leaving us all to fend for ourselves", said Leddy. But he also apologized to the people who cared about him, calling himself "a broken guy" with "a few screws loose".

Video taken by a bystander showed the 76-seat plane making a big, slow loop-the-loop as F-15 fighter jets gave chase, then flying low over Puget Sound before crashing into Ketron Island, a sparsely-populated area in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington.

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Two military F-15 chased plane but was not involved in the crash, the sheriff's department tweeted.

The sheriff's department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the Pierce County resident, whose name was not immediately released.

Confirming this, the airport said, "No passengers were onboard during the incident and normal operations have resumed at the airfield".

Authorities said the man was a Horizon employee for three and one-half years, had clearance to be among aircraft, and was a Horizon Air ground service agent.

Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement early Saturday morning that the airline was "working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened".

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Beck said flying the "complex machine" would be more hard than a private plane.

At another point, the joyriding pilot tells the tower that he's played lots of video games and can handle the plane well.

The air drama was broadcast live over air traffic control monitoring sites. They also said he didn't have a pilot's license, and that it is unclear how he attained the skills to do loops in the aircraft before crashing about an hour after taking off. "Never really knew it until now", said Richard Russell. We have police boats, we have everybody responding. There were no other people on board, and the man piloting the plane has not been recovered. "Well I would hope it would be for a guy like me".

Minutes later the jet crashed into the islands in a ball of flames. Whether or not "Rich" realized it, the national guard had scrambled a pair of F-15 fighters to protect the airports in case he made any threatening moves toward one of them.

Smoke and an orange glow seen on Ketron Island in Washington state.

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President Donald Trump was briefed and the White House praised authorities´ quick response to the crisis.