Local aviation expert weighs in on Seattle plane theft and crash

Port of Seattle Commissioner Courtney Gregoire

Only minutes after the plane made its freakish, unauthorized takeoff around 8 p.m., the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) scrambled two F-15s out of Portland to intercept it.

In recordings of Russell's remarkable conversation with air traffic controllers he speaks admiringly of the Olympic Mountains at sunset, complains of lightheadedness and muses about potential prison time if he were to land the plane safely.

The man, described by police as a 29-year-old mechanic, says that he has a lot of people that care about him.

The happy husband portrayed on Hannah's Instagram is a far cry from the self-described "broken guy" who reportedly committed suicide by plane crash on Friday evening.

The pilot marvels at the beauty of the Olympics.

"Hey, pilot guy", Rich asks. "Can this thing do a black flip thing?".

"At this time, the family is moving forward with processing our grief", said Mathews. "Well I would hope it would be for a guy like me". Moments later they heard an explosion.

Local media citing sources at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) air force base said one or more F-15 fighter planes contacted the rogue aircraft and it crashed soon afterwards.

Tilden said airplanes of that type do not have doors that lock or ignition keys like cars.

It's unclear how Russell attained the skills to do loops in the aircraft, authorities said. He expected "a whole slew of engines that will be coming through at the ferry terminal in a few minutes".

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There is now a background check being done on him to see if a possible motive can be found. [The plane did] a complete loop. He flew it for an hour, followed by two armed F-15 jets from OR that the military scrambled , before he crashed.

There were no reports of injuries on the ground, he said, except presumably the pilot. The Q400 ix a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.

"We've confirmed a Horizon Air Q400 that had an unauthorized takeoff from SeaTac around 8 pm has gone down near Ketron Island in Pierce County, WA. More information as we learn more".

In this long-exposure photo, smoke and an orange glow are seen on Ketron Island in Washington state, early Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018 as viewed from near Steilacoom, Wash. "This is what we call the inside risk", he said, explaining that the security measures should not only be aimed at passengers, but also at employees. Those agents guide planes, handle bags and de-ice planes, Horizon Air says. "We're lucky that it went on a very unpopulated island", said NTSB Alaska Region Chief Debra Eckrote. "We are sending resources and people".

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".

Airline officials said the ground service agent had a certification to tow aircraft, which results in a higher security clearance than other ground agents.

"I want to thank the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling jets to keep Washingtonians safe", Inslee tweeted, adding: "Those pilots are trained for moments like tonight and showed they are ready and capable".

"I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Never really knew it, until now", Richard Russell said at one point.

"There were some maneuvers that were done that were incredible maneuvers with the aircraft", Gary Beck, CEO of Horizon Air, said of the flight that ended with a crash onto a small island. The jets were flown by crews from the 142nd Fighter Wing, which is part of the Oregon Air National Guard. "Regular ramp agents wouldn't know", said Halbert. He briefly turned away, then turned back and saw the explosion as the plane crashed.

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

Alaska Air said the F-15s were scrambled from a Portland airbase.

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