Monday, 15 October, 2018

'Stolen' plane closes Seattle airport before crashing into sea

A Q400 Turboprop like that stolen from Sea Tac International Airport A Q400 Turboprop like that stolen from Sea Tac International Airport
Elsie Buchanan | 13 August, 2018, 08:23

The family of a man who authorities say stole a plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and later crashed it called him a faithful husband, loving son and good friend.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter that preliminary information suggested that a mechanic had stolen the aircraft.

This story was first published on CNN.com, "Plane with only an airline employee aboard crashes after unauthorized takeoff in Seattle, airport says".

No passengers were on board and normal operations have resumed at the airfield, the airport said on Twitter.

Investigators say Russell acted alone as a "suicidal male", there were no other crew members on board, and officials are not investigating the incident as an act of terrorism.

USA law enforcement officials are piecing together how an airline ground agent stole an empty plane.

A MECHANIC stole a plane from Seattle airport and joked with air traffic controllers before crashing into an island.

The 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop plane took off without authorization at 7:32 p.m. local time Friday, with Russell, who was not a pilot, at the controls, officials said. "There was no indication this person flying the plane was trying to damage anything", he said.

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Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement early Saturday morning that the airline was "working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened". Officials said Russell was a 3.5-year Horizon employee and had clearance to be among aircraft.

The regional airliner was intercepted by a pair of F-15s which the Air Force said were in the air within a few minutes of it taking off.

Witnesses report F-15s chasing plane then saw smoke, and loud boom. "Pilots kept plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe", the sheriff tweeted. "The situation was not their fault but I think they could have given a little more guidance or announced to the plane this is what's going on instead of leaving us all to fend for ourselves", said Leddy.

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft before it crashed. He was in contact with air traffic controllers and described himself as a "broken guy" with "a couple of screws loose". Investigators headed Saturday to the crash site to recover the plane's data recorders and Russell's remains as part of a criminal probe, authorities said.

A nearby military base dispatched two F-15 fighter jets, who diverted the aircraft away from residents, before it crashed into a nearby island.

Air traffic controllers and pilots could be heard discussing a "ground stop" and dealing with a backlog of aircraft.

"I've got a lot of people that care about me".

He then said he would perform a last barrel role before he crashed into a sparsely populated area of Ketron Island.

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