'Stolen' plane closes Seattle airport before crashing into sea

Cornelia Mascio
Agosto 12, 2018

There was no indication that the incident was an act of terror and no passengers were aboard the plane, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a series of Tweets. The plane involved was a Horizon Air Q400 with no passengers on board, tweeted Alaskan Airlines.

Federal authorities on Saturday were seeking to learn what drove an airline worker to steal an empty airplane from Seattle's airport in a security scare that caused the scrambling of USA fighter jets and ended when the plane crashed.

Law enforcement sources confirmed to both The Seattle Times and The New York Times that Russell, who handled baggage and towed aircraft for Horizon Air, was the pilot.

"Commercial aircraft are complex machines", Beck said.

Flames pour from the crash site.

The married mechanic - who has not been named - crashed on Ketron Island, 30 miles south west of Seattle, at 8pm local time.

The man was suicidal, and there was no connection to terrorism, Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the sheriff's department, said on Twitter.

He also described the emergency as "a joyride gone terribly wrong".

Russell had been described as "suicidal".

Russell lived locally and had acted alone.

Recently retired airline operational supervisor Rick Christenson said he and Russell's other former colleagues were "stunned".

According to USA Today, Russell ended the "about" section of the blog with his dreams for the future: Moving up to become a manager at Horizon Air or joining the military as an officer.

"He was a quiet guy".

"He was well liked by the other workers", Rick Christenson told The Seattle Times. "I'm down to 2,100 (pounds)", he is heard saying. Troyer said F-15 aircraft scrambled out of Portland, Oregon, and were in the air "within a few minutes" and the pilots kept "people on the ground safe". Jimmy Thomson, deputy editor of Canadian investigative news outlet The Narwhal, has compiled and transcribed portions of the air-traffic recording of the incident, and they provide a haunting glimpse into the moments before the plane crash.

On Saturday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told media that President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident and is now "monitoring the situation" in Seattle.

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft near the airport.

Eyewitness John Waldron told CNN he watched the plane do "a complete loop", before it went "pretty much straight up".

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".

In a conversation with the control tower, the pilot came across as excitable, confused and even apologetic.

Air traffic controllers attempted to talk the man into landing at McChord field - but he refused. "Let's turn around the air and land it and not hurt anybody on the ground". "I was kind of hoping that was going to be it, you know". "I don't want to".

Later, he said he's "got a lot of people that care about me".

Southers, the aviation security expert, said the man could have caused mass destruction.

But he also shows a limited knowledge of operations, acknowledging that the amount of fuel used on take-off was quite a lot more than he expected and that some instructions to him were "mumbo jumbo".

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