Stolen Alaska Airlines plane crashes after unauthorized takeoff from Seattle-Tacoma airport

The plane exploded upon impact in woodland when it crashed due to ‘doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills

The plane exploded upon impact in woodland when it crashed due to ‘doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills

A 29-year-old man stole a plane with no one else on board from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport late Friday before crashing on a nearby island, authorities said.

According to the unverified Twitter profile of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, the plane was stolen by a mechanic from an unknown airline company, based on preliminary information.

PCSD officials also said this is not a terrorist incident.

Jeremy Kaelin said he worked with Russell, a ground service agent at Horizon Air, in 2016.

Mr Russell was an airline ground agent working his regular shift when he stole the empty Horizon Air turboprop plane and took off from Sea-Tac International Airport. Those employees direct aircraft for takeoff and gate approach and de-ice planes.

A number of videos on social media show the plane flying over the area in an erratic manner. "He was definitely one of the harder working people on the ramps".

"There is a protocol to not allow anyone singularly to get onboard an aircraft", CNN safety analyst David Soucie said.

"Commercial aircrafts are complex machines".

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?"

The pilot - who is addressed as "Rich" in the recordings - says he's "got a lot of people that care about me" and that he was "just a broken guy".

"He's ground support so they have access to aircrafts", she said of the man. It did not elaborate.

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

I mean, I would hope it is, for a guy like me".

"Oh, Richard", said the controller, "We're not going to worry or think about that".

"Could you start a left turn and we'll take you down to the SE, please", the air-traffic controller then asked. The man's condition after the crash wasn't immediately known. "So, I started to capture video, just because I thought it was kind of freakish", he told CNN.

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The man responds: "Awwww-right ... dammit". "The kid I know wouldn't do that". "I don't know! I don't want to".

North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled two F-15 fighter jets to deal with the Horizon Air plane. They pursued the aircraft before it went down on Ketron Island, between Tacoma and Olympia. The Department of Natural Resources said two acres burned. The jets were not involved in the crash, it said. "Witnesses said a. plane is going down".

The fighter jets flew at supersonic speed, triggering a boom first taken to be an explosion, as they raced to intercept the plane.

"Hey all! My names Richard Russell, I'm 27 and now living in Sumner, WA with my incredible wife Hannah".

"It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie", a resident who saw the crash told The Seattle Times.

"Everybody's stunned. that something like this would happen", said recently-retired Christenson.

In a series of tweets, he said F15s were scrambled out of Portland and arrived within a few minutes of the theft of plane.

He said the pilot then "pulled pretty much straight up and kind of at an angle", adding he "somehow he got it levelled back off and then made his way down toward the island".

The sparsely populated island remained close to ferry traffic Saturday morning.

Beck said flying the "complex machine" would be more hard than a private plane.

"Yeah, he knew how to fly", she continued.

Officials said yesterday that to their knowledge, he wasn't a licensed pilot.

Constance von Muehlen, chief operating officer of Horizon Air, a sister carrier of Alaska Airlines, said that at about 8pm an employee of the airline undertook an unauthorised take-off of a Q400 twin-engine turboprop airplane. Eckrote said investigators would search the man's home and speak to his family and friends.

"As the voice recordings show Bebo's intention was not to harm anyone".

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