Monday, 20 August, 2018

Stolen plane crashes near Sea-Tac International Airport; no passengers onboard

BREAKING NEWS: Horizon Air Q400 Hijacked from Seattle Airline Worker Steals Aircraft, Crashes Near Seattle
Russell Knight | 12 August, 2018, 06:42

An airline employee allegedly hijacked a plane at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday night right before it crashed into the Puget Sound in Washington.

Early reports indicated the suspect was speaking to air traffic controllers.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer told the Bellingham Herald that information was preliminary regarding the developing incident.

It is believed that he was a mechanic who took the plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. He described him as a white male, age 29, who may have mental health problems.

He added, "The responding fighter pilots flew alongside the aircraft and were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us, but in the end the man flying the stolen plane crashed".

The aircraft "crashed in south Puget Sound", Sea-Tac Airport said, adding that normal operations at the transport hub had resumed after a pause. On Saturday, Alaska said he handled baggage and towed aircraft at the airport.

In a bewildering move, a Horizon Air employee stole an Alaska Airlines plane on Friday and flew it erratically until crashing into an island nearby. On Friday around 7:32 p.m., he got in the cockpit of an empty 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop plane and took off without authorization.

Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said at a news conference Saturday in Seattle that the man, identified by sources familiar with the investigation as Richard Russell, was "fully credentialed" and authorized to be working near the aircraft. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this", Russell said.

In addition to disrupting air traffic control, the incident also caused alarm among locals, many of whom recorded the incident. There were reportedly no passengers on the plane.

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Authorities initially said the man was a mechanic but Alaska Airlines later said he was an employee who helps direct aircraft to gates and de-ice planes.

The man also said he had no flying experience - but had "played some video games before". He documented his feelings working at the job on his social media and said he liked to travel and was hoping to one day work in a management position at the company.

"Aw man, those guys would rough me up if I tried landing there".

Alaska Airlines and other planes sit on the tarmac at Sea-Tac International Airport Friday evening, August 10, 2018, in SeaTac, Wash. "Never really knew it until now".

"So, (he) had some knowledge but clearly wasn't a commercial pilot".

Mr Russell, a ground service employee with Horizon Air, has not been officially named by authorities but his family have revealed his identity. I don't want to.

NORAD said its fighter pilots did not fire upon the plane. The rogue pilot was aauthorized to operate the equipment that tows airplanes to and from runways.

Authorities say the man went through various background checks to get clearance to be in the secured area. The response to the fire was made more challenging by the limited availability of water, but by midday today, the fire was "pretty much out", said Debra Eckrote, regional chief for the National Transportation Safety Board.

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