'Suicidal' mechanic stole empty plane then crashed into island after F15 chase

Airliner takes off without authorization at Sea-Tac crashes in Puget Sound	 	 	 			A Horizon Q400 | Source Alaska Airlines

The family of 29-year-old Richard Russell, who liked to be called Beebo, delivered a statement to the media. He is reported to be a Pierce County resident.

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

He flew it for an hour, followed by two armed F-15 jets from OR that the military scrambled, before he crashed.

The audio between the man known as "Rich" and air traffic controllers further captured his demeanor. Later, he said he's "got a lot of people that care about me".

The airport ground service agent also apologised to his friends and family, calling himself a "broken guy". Never knew he was fighting a battle non of us knew about.

Beck marvelled at the amateur piloting.

The pilot, identified as "Rich", comes across as excitable, confused, and even apologetic in a conversation with the control tower. "Can this thing do a black flip thing?".

Ms Morse's mother, who lives closer to the area where the plane went down, said her whole house shook.

The air controller tells him there is a runway just off to his right "in about a mile [1.6km]", referring to a military airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

NORAD said the fighters did not fire on the stolen airplane.

Officials said Saturday that the man was a 3.5-year Horizon employee and had clearance to be among aircraft, but that to their knowledge, he wasn't a licensed pilot. He expected "a whole slew of engines that will be coming through at the ferry terminal in a few minutes". "It can be a little more casual and a little loosey-goosey, especially if they are doing overnight maintenance", said Schiavo, a former pilot and aviation professor. According to a statement from Alaska, the sole man onboard, the one operating the plane, was an employee for Horizon Air.

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Two fighter jets were trying to redirect the stolen Horizon Air turboprop over the Pacific Ocean on Friday night when it crashed on an island off Steilacoom in Pierce County, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said in a news release Saturday morning.

"The greatest threat we have to aviation is the insider threat", Erroll Southers, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent and transportation security expert, told The Associated Press. "More information as we learn more".

He was presumably killed about an hour later when the aircraft crashed into a small island southwest of Seattle.

"We have multiple 911 calls, over 30, reporting a fireball", Troyer said. After flying around an unpredictable path, the plane crashed at a nearby island. We have police boats, we have everybody responding. "We are sending resources and people".

Sea-Tac Airport has issued its official response to the hijacking incident on Friday night, assuring the public that there is no further danger. "I hope this doesn't ruin your day", he said to the controller, adding that he was grateful to be kept away from other aircraft.

"They don't have any of that stuff", the air-traffic controller said.

"I would like to apologise to each and every one of them", he is heard saying in the recording.

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?" It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this.

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

He then saw the two jets come back around toward him, but not the plane. Unlike cars, there are no keys needed for the door or to turn on the plane, he said.

"It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie", King told the Times. The F-15s were scrambled from Portland and were not involved in the crash.

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