Plane stolen by ‘suicidal’ employee crashes near Seattle

No passengers were onboard and normal operations have resumed at the airfield

No passengers were onboard and normal operations have resumed at the airfield

"There is the runway just off to your right side in about a mile", the controller told him.

Efforts were made to try and get him to land the plane, but after saying he might land it "in a safe kind of manner" he added: 'I think I'm gonna try to do a barrel roll, and if that goes good, I'm just gonna nose down and call it a night'.

Preliminary information suggests the crash occurred because the 29-year-old man was "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills", the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said. They should've gone over and said "Hey, ' if nothing else, 'Can I help you?" But he also apologized to the people who cared about him, calling himself "a broken guy" with "a few screws loose".

The biggest question: How did a ground service agent - whose job includes directing planes for takeoff and gate approaches as well as baggage handling and de-icing - manage to steal a 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop and fly it for almost an hour Friday night with military jets in pursuit before plunging into a wooded island?

Two F-15 fighters were scrambled from the Portland airport and followed the plane as it flew over the region, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.

At a news conference in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, officials from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said that they are still working with authorities as they investigate what happened.

The incident, which the FBI's Seattle office did not consider terrorism, raises questions about airport security.

Astonishing video showed the Horizon Air Q400, a turboprop plane that seats 76 people, doing large loops and other risky manoeuvres as the sun set on Puget Sound.

Authorities said the man was a Horizon employee for three and one-half years, had clearance to be among aircraft, and was a Horizon Air ground service agent.

Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life". "We are working back ground on him now", the Pierce County Sheriff wrote.

Mr Waldron said the plane at its lowest point was no more than 100ft (30.5m) above the water. "I've played some video games before".

"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".

The plane left the ground at 7:32 p.m. and air-traffic controllers lost contact with it at 8:47 p.m., Tilden added. They said the family "is moving forward with the hard talk of processing our grief" and asked for space to mourn.

"There is a protocol to not allow anyone singularly to get onboard an aircraft", CNN safety analyst David Soucie said. "Never knew it, until now".

During the doomed flight he spoke to air traffic control who pleaded with Russell to land. "We have no indication of any casualties other than the person on the plane".

The flight lasted about 75 minutes, and ended when he crashed into the small island after being chased by military jets.

The regional airline, based at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, is owned by the Alaska Air Group.

"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", Inslee said.

"I lift a lot of bags".

President Donald Trump was briefed and the White House praised authorities´ quick response to the crisis.

Gary Howell, a Wasilla High track and field coach, said he remembered Russell as a amusing guy who also had a smile and a joke and was a great team player.

Dozens of personnel were out at the crash site, and co-workers and family members were being interviewed, he said.

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