Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Airline worker crashes stolen plane

Alaska Airlines planes are seen at Seattle Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac Wash. Oct. 30 2013 BREAKING NEWS: Horizon Air Q400 Hijacked from Seattle
Rhonda Young | 12 August, 2018, 16:42

Russell was the only person aboard, and did not survive, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said.

Richard Russell, who liked to be called Beebo, was a 29-year-old man living in Sumner, Washington, who was born in Key West, Florida, and moved to Wasilla, Alaska, when he was 7 years old, according to a Web page he set up for a college communications class. He is reported to be a Pierce County resident.

An airline mechanic stole an airplane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday (Aug 10) and was chased by two United States military jets before crashing on a nearby sparsely populated island, the local sheriff said.

But the plane made turns and aerobatic maneuvers that suggest some skill, she said.

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

Naturally, the errant plane disrupted air traffic control - but it also scared observers who had no idea what the aircraft was doing. "I've got a lot of people that care about me. Never knew it until now".

The pilot marvels at the beauty of the Olympics. "Can this thing do a black flip thing?".

The man seemed to understand that his actions would have dire consequences. "This is probably jail time for life, huh? I would hope it is for a guy like me", he said. Moments later they heard an explosion.

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

There were no reports of injuries on the ground, he said, except presumably the pilot.

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop airplane is designed for shorter-distance flights and can seat 76 passengers, Alaska Air said on its website.

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

Russell worked for Horizon Air - a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines - for over three years. "We will provide more details when appropriate". He said the military planes were not involved in the crash.

The controller responds: "OK, Rich. We are sending resources and people".

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

At one point, he said: "Hey do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?"

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The sheriff said earlier that the employee was a airline mechanic, but the airline said he was a ground service agent.

"Congratulations, you did it", the control tower tells him, according to an audio feed aired on CNN. "I would like to apologize to each and every one one of them".

"I feel like one of my engines has gone out", Rich told the captain as he flew the empty plane.

While he was in the air, Russell described himself to air traffic controllers as "just a broken guy" with "a few screws loose".

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

It's unclear how he attained the skills to do loops in the aircraft before crashing about an hour after taking off into a small island in the Puget Sound, authorities said. He was also reportedly followed by an F-15 fighter jet.

Russell appears to have been a ground service agent, the paper said.

"We saw the jets circle back after and she texted that there was no plane", she added.

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"At this time, we believe he was the only one in the aircraft but of course, we haven't confirmed that at the crash site", Jay Tabb, chief of the FBI's Seattle division, told reporters. "The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low".

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