Stolen Plane Flies From Seattle, Crashes After Jets Scramble To Intercept

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Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen said the company believes the man who stole the plane was a Horizon employee.

While authorities did not release the man's name, they say the man was suicidal, and officials said Friday night the man is likely dead.

Gary Beck, President and CEO of Horizon Air, said in a statement the plane crashed "about an hour" after it left Sea-Tac airport.

Preliminary information suggests that the mechanic stole the Horizon Air Q400 and the crash occurred because the person was "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills", the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said on Twitter. It crashed near Ketron Island in Pierce County, the airline tweeted, adding that "we believe" nobody besides the man was on board. Alaska Airlines said he was an employee who helps direct aircraft to gates and de-ice planes.

During the conversation, Russell said he had put some fuel in the plane "to go check out the Olympics" - the Olympic Mountains that lie about 100 miles (160 kilometers) away. "They probably got anti-aircraft!" "Commercial aircraft are complex machines".

The airport ground service agent also apologised to his friends and family, calling himself a "broken guy". "And, uh, it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this".

On a SoundCloud site, Russell interviews fellow ground service agents, asking them questions that include: "What was one of your best travel experiences using your flight benefits?" "I'm a broken guy who had a few screws loose".

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

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They called a second alarm, Adams said, to get more crews out to the island. It did not elaborate.

"I've got a lot of people that care about me", he said at one point.

"Oh, Richard", said the controller, "We're not going to worry or think about that".

John Waldron told CNN: "I started to capture video, just because I thought it was, kind of freakish".

An air traffic controller called the man "Rich", and tried to convince him to land the airplane.

"Alright", the man in the airplane responds. "I don't wanna, I don't know". I wouldn't want to do that-Oh!

Video taken by a bystander showed the passenger airplane making an unlikely upside-down loop, then flying low over Puget Sound before crashing into the sparsely populated Ketron Island in the northwestern USA state of Washington. On Friday around 7:32 p.m., he got in the cockpit of an empty 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop plane and took off without authorization.

Ketron Island has few residents.

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As Mr Waldron was preparing to "run and take cover", he looked back and "saw a bright, pinpoint area of flame".

Alaska Airlines also confirmed the 27-year-old had been "background checked" and had worked a shift at the airport prior to stealing the plane. After flying around an unpredictable path, the plane crashed at a nearby island.

"I thought they were practicing for an air show", he said.

Federal authorities were searching on Saturday for what drove an airline worker to steal an empty airplane from Seattle's airport and crashing it into a nearby sparsely populated island, sparking a security scare that saw U.S. fighter jets scrambled.

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Kethleen Reichel said she watched the planes pass by for about two minutes.

"We are going to be thorough, which means taking the time needed to scour the area, delve into the background of the individual believed responsible, and review every aspect of this incident with all appropriate public & private partners", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

Alaska Airlines said no structures on the ground were damaged.

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