The air controller tells him there is a runway just off to his right "in about a mile [1.6km]", referring to a military airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
The man sounds calm at times and jokes with operators on the ground, who try to direct him to places to land.
Later Russell said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me".
At one point, he said: "Hey do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?"
A number of videos on social media show the plane flying over the area in an erratic manner. The motive appears to be suicide and it was confirmed late Friday that it was not a terrorist act.
Russell was credentialed to be in secure areas at the airport, said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group, which owns Horizon Air.
According to the mercurynews.com, witnesses reported seeing the Bombardier Q400, a turboprop aircraft, perform a loop-the-loop and almost slam into Chambers Bay, all while being pursued by fighter jets. They also said he didn't have a pilot's license, and that it is unclear how he attained the skills to do loops in the aircraft before crashing about an hour after taking off.
"We are going to be thorough, which means taking the time needed to scour the area, delve into the background of the individual believed responsible, and review every aspect of this incident with all appropriate public & private partners", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.
After Russell talked periodically with air traffic controllers for about an hour, the plane crashed on Ketron Island, officials said.
Family members of the man who stole an empty plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, prompting a security scare before his death from crashing the plane into a sparsely populated island, have released a statement expressing their shock and grief over the incident.
An allegedly suicidal man stole an aircraft from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and prompted a security scare as authorities scrambled two fighter jets to "do whatever necessary" in order to keep the people Washington state safe.
Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling jets and said in a statement "there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident".
Horizon Air COO Constance von Muehlen said she believed the plane had been taken by "a single Horizon Air employee" and that no other passengers or crew were on board.
The Pierce County Sheriff´s office ruled out terrorism Friday. "Well I would hope it would be for a guy like me". Near the end of the video, you can also see the aftermath of the crash.
Alaska Airlines said no structures on the ground were damaged.