'Suicidal' mechanic steals plane from Seattle airport

Cornelia Mascio
Agosto 12, 2018

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 USA state of Washington.

Military Times reports that NORAD directed the pilots to "fly supersonic to expedite the intercept ... while air traffic control tried to talk the pilot into landing the plane at nearby Joint Base Lewis McChord".

"Oh man", Rich says, "those guys will rough me up if I try and land there".

Later the man said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me".

The couple traveled to Puerto Rico earlier this year, where Hannah Instagrammed a photo of them sitting on the beach with the caption: 'I'm so thankful for this man!'

He could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is "just a broken guy".

North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled two F-15 fighter jets to deal with the Horizon Air plane.

The Pierce County sheriff said that the perpetrator acted alone and "was confirmed a suicidal male".

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop airplane is designed for shorter-distance flights and can seat 76 passengers, Alaska Air said on its website.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor later told reporters it appeared to be "a joyride gone terribly wrong", according to ABC7 News, adding "most terrorists don't do loops over the water".

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.

Gary Beck, CEO of Horizon Air, said it wasn't clear how the man knew to start the engine, which requires a series of switches and levers.

Richard Russell took an Alaska Air from Seattle Tacoma Airport on Friday evening and flew it without authorisation.

The US fighter jets chased the planes to divert the Horizon Air Q400 from the crowded area after the airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers. "Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed".

The man, who was a ground agent at Sea-Tac Airport and not a pilot, eventually crashed on Ketron Island and died.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) planned to send a team to Ketron Island on Saturday to retrieve the aircraft's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, said Debra Eckrote, Western Pacific regional chief for the NTSB's Office of Aviation Safety.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden told Saturday´s press conference that the man had worked for Horizon Air since February 2015.

The weird incident highlights one of the biggest potential threats for commercial air travelers - airline or airport employees causing mayhem, according to the report. There were no buildings hit and no one was killed or injured on the ground.

Gary Howell, a Wasilla High track and field coach, said he remembered Russell as a amusing guy who also had a smile and a joke and was a great team player. Near the end of the video, you can also see the aftermath of the crash.

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