Mystery surrounds why worker stole plane before crashing to his death

Cornelia Mascio
Agosto 14, 2018

Indeed, Gary Beck, chief executive of Horizon Air, an Alaska Air Group subsidiary, said that Russell - who died when the Q400 turboprop aircraft he was piloting crashed into an island some 30 miles from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport - did not have a pilot's license.

His family said in a statement that they were "stunned and heartbroken" over what happened.

The airline worker, whose nickname was Beebo, has not yet been formally named as the pilot of the plane but he has been identified as such by his family and by U.S. media.

"Right now he is just flying around and he just needs some help controlling his aircraft", the air traffic controller is heard saying to Mr Russell.

This email will be delivered to your inbox once a day in the morning. "He was that kid you high-five in the hallway even if you don't know him".

Investigators have yet to determine whether the crash was deliberate or accidental - but in a 20-minute recorded conversation with an air traffic control agent, Russell said he planned to go "nose down and call it a night."

"Got a few screws loose, I guess".

Russell, or "Beebo" as some called him, was "a faithful husband, a loving son and a good friend", his family said.

"Beebo's intent was not to harm anyone".

"It may seem hard for those watching at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm, compassionate man", Mike Mathews said in the family's statement.

Coos Bay resident Pete Schaefers told KGW he first met Russell at Southwest Oregon Community College.

Much of the security imposed after the 2001 terrorist hijackings involves more rigorous screening for passengers and airline employees, along with new rules around access to cockpits in flight and federal procedures for pilots and flight attendants to report colleagues who they feel may not be fit for duty.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life". "He was very big-hearted".

"I think I might mess something up there, too". He said the military planes were not involved in the crash.

Authorities are investigating how an Alaska Airlines group employee in Seattle managed to seize an empty airplane, take it for a freaky joyride over Puget Sound, and finally, chased by military jets, crash it in an apparent suicide on a sparsely populated island off Tacoma, Washington.

After the plane approached Ketron Island, Waldron saw a thick column of smoke followed by a loud explosion, he said.

At a news conference, officials from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said that they were working with authorities.

The man who stole and later crashed the plane was identified by officials as Richard Russell, 29, a local ground service agent who assisted baggage handlers.

"This is aviation in America: The doors to the airplanes are not keyed like a auto, there's not an ignition", Mr Tilden said at a news conference last Saturday. The man went through various background checks to get clearance to be in the secured area, according to authorities.

The Horizon Air plane is unrecognizable, said a NTSB official.

Alaska Airlines planes on the tarmac at Sea-Tac International Airport.

Rick Christenson, who retired in May as an operational supervisor with the airline, told The Seattle Times that Russell was "a quiet guy'. It seemed like he was well liked by the other workers".

At another point, he says he knows how to "put the landing gear down" but adds "I really wasn't planning on landing it". - I have no idea what all that means. It's still a mystery how Russell could take off. He said the airline had instructed employees not to speak with the media. Like, a lot of bags.

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