Mechanic steals empty plane from Seattle's airport, crashes

Mechanic steals empty plane from Seattle's airport, crashes”

Ultimately, the man crash landed the hijacked Horizon Air Q400 plane after being coaxed by air traffic controllers, but audio and witness accounts paint a disturbing scene.

A MECHANIC stole a plane from Seattle airport and joked with air traffic controllers before crashing into an island. Two military F-15s were scrambled to pursue the plane, but were not involved in the crash. After a ride full of risky loop-the-loops moves and weird conversation with the air traffic controllers, Richard wasn't able to land safely and crashed into a heavily wooded area on Ketron Island causing the jet became engulfed in flames.

Russell, 29, worked for Horizon Air's ground crew as a member of the tow team, Christenson said.

Investigators on Saturday will try to retrieve the plane's flight data recorder and its cockpit voice recorder. According to a statement from Alaska, the sole man onboard, the one operating the plane, was an employee for Horizon Air.

Dave Leval contributed information to this story.

The freakish incident points to one of the biggest potential perils for commercial air travel - airline or airport employees causing mayhem.

"We're working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Transportation Safety Board".

Law enforcement vehicles are shown, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom, Wash., near where a Coast Guard spokeswoman said the agency was responding to a report of a smoke plume and possible plane crash.

The FBI's special agent in charge of the Seattle office, Jay S. Tabb, said up to 40 FBI agents were working the case overnight. He said the plane crashed in a wooded area.

A plane has crashed near Sea-Tac airport in Seattle after being stolen by an airline worker and perused by F-15 fighter jets. There were no passengers aboard.

The airline tells The Associated Press that the plane was a Horizon Air Q400 and it believed no passengers were on board. Ground service agents' job duties are to load and unload bags, direct aircraft for takeoff and de-ice planes in the winter.

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

"We have multiple 911 calls, over 30, reporting a fireball", Troyer said.

Per CNN, the man also had some freakish and heartbreaking radio correspondence from the cockpit before the 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop went down. Russell "had access legitimately" to the plane, Mike Ehl, director of aviation operations at the airport in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington said, adding that "no security violations were committed".

The man seemed to understand that his actions would have dire consequences. "This is probably jail time for life, huh?" "I would like to apologize to each and every one of them".

While in the air, Russell joked for almost 20 minutes with the air traffic control agent, but admitted he had "a few screws loose" and called himself "just a broken guy".

An air traffic controller tried to convince him to land the aeroplane. The crash sparked a 2-acre wildfire.

He went through various background checks to get clearance to be in the secured area, authorities said.

Kethleen Reichel said she watched the planes pass by for about two minutes.

President Donald Trump was briefed and the White House praised authorities´ quick response to the crisis.

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

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