U.S. airline worker steals plane, takes it for flight before crashing it

A Horizon Air airplane was stolen from Sea Tac Airport on Aug. 10 2018 and crashed on Ketron Island where it sparked a fire

Only the unidentified pilot was on the plane, according to authorities. The plane crashed either while the man was doing stunts or because of a lack of flying skills, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Video taken by a bystander showed the passenger airplane making an unlikely upside-down loop, then flying low over Puget Sound before crashing into the sparsely populated Ketron Island in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington.

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

The hijacker has been described as a 29-year-old mechanic who worked for an "unknown airline".

Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement fighter pilots flew alongside the plane "and were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us".

"They don't have any of that stuff", the air-traffic controller assures him. It appeared the ground worker used a tow vehicle to rotate the plane 180 degrees on the tarmac before climbing into the cockpit, taxiing to a runway and taking off, Alaska executives said. Just a broken guy. "Never knew it until now". "Can this thing do a black flip thing?".

He also admired the sunset, complained of lightheadedness, and asked whether he would go to prison if he landed safely.

Ground control advises him to wait.

Ketron Island has few residents.

He said he thought it was some military drills from the nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The wooded area is hard to access, and because there are no fire engines on the island, everything has to get to there via ferry, Adams said.

The pilot can also be heard apologising for his actions.

Recently retired airline operational supervisor Rick Christenson said he and Russell's other former colleagues were "stunned".

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"We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400".

He is believed to have been suicidal when he stole the plane capable of carrying 76 passengers. "We will provide more details when appropriate".

Fire crews and boats are responding to the scene.

"Still to this day, you go into the Wasilla High gym, there's a weight belt that says Beebo", Howell said.

Eventually, the employee voiced concern about losing fuel, and told controllers that one of the engines was "going out or something". "We are sending resources and people".

The North American Aerospace Defense Command said Saturday it dispatched two F-15C alert aircraft from Portland to intercept the plane.

Normal operations at Sea-Tac resumed around 9:30 Friday night.

Mr Russell's family said in the statement that the recordings showed he wasn't planning to harm others.

The man known as "Rich" in air traffic control audio and dubbed the "skyking" on Twitter broke hearts on social media as people followed the unauthorized flight because it came to a fatal end.

"I got a lot of people that care about me", he said on the recording. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. They're not as easy to fly as, say, a Cessna 150, so I don't know how he achieved the experience that he did", Beck said.

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".

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

On a walk near Chambers Bay Golf Course, Derek Funk and his girlfriend, Lesley Gordon, heard the aircraft before they saw them.

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