Fragments of stolen plane scattered after crash

A Horizon Q400

A Horizon Q400

Richard Russell, 29, has been identified as the airport employee who randomly stole an Alaska Airlines Horizon Air Q400 jet at Seattle-Tacoma airport on August 10 and took it on a joyride by himself before he crash landed and sadly died.

Officials say an airline employee stole the empty plane and took off from Sea-Tac International Airport on Friday night.

Alaska Airlines executives said at a news conference at Sea-Tac late Saturday morning that the employee who took the plane was authorized to be both on the tarmac and inside planes and that not security protocols were violated.

A Horizon Air airplane was stolen from SeaTac Airport on August 10, 2018 and crashed on Ketron Island where it sparked a fire.

A "suicidal" airline employee at Seattle's Sea-Tac International Airport stole an empty plane Friday night for a freakish joyride, performing unsafe air maneuvers under close pursuit by F-15 fighter jets before crashing into an island.

Investigators have not disclosed how Russell was able to steal the plane and take it aloft, but the suicidal state evident in his radio exchanges is likely to revive the debate about the background checks of aviation employees with access to secure areas, analysts say.

The sheriff's office also said that the F-15s arrived minutes after the plane was stolen and kept the aircraft "out of harm's way and people on ground safe".

"Male is confirmed a suicidal male". He used a machine called a pushback tractor to first maneuver the aircraft so he could board and then take off Friday evening.

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A man who stole an empty passenger plane from Seattle airport and then crashed it was an airline worker with full credentials, authorities say. 'The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low'. Performing barrel roles and flips before a fatal crash on the Ketron Island.

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop is designed for short-distance flights and can seat 76 passengers, Alaska Air said.

The statement was read by family friend Mike Matthews, on behalf of Mr Russell's loved ones, who pleaded for privacy for the family and said this would be the only time the family would address the media. The man sounds calm at times and jokes with operators on the ground, who try to direct him to places to land.

"I would like to apologize to each and every one of them", the man added. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this", he said.

The man, who was addressed as "Rich" in audio recordings with air traffic controllers, said he didn't want to land at a nearby military base.

"Got a few screws loose, I guess", Russell is heard saying in the recording.

Within minutes of the plane's takeoff, the military scrambled two armed F-15 jets from OR to follow it, according to local and airline authorities and two sources with knowledge of the situation. "I was kinda hoping that was gonna be it. Ya know?" However, "Rich" also later tells them that he can't figure out how to pressurize the plane and that he's getting "lightheaded" after having vomited at least once. "Never really knew it, until now", he added. The jets were not involved in the crash, it said.

"It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie", King told the Times.

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