'Suicidal' mechanic stole empty plane then crashed into island after F15 chase

An incident at the Seattle Tacoma International Airport led to a temporary grounding of all flights on Friday night

'Suicidal' mechanic stole empty plane then crashed into island after F15 chase

Mr Russell, 29, who authorities say was suicidal and did not have a pilot's licence, died after the plane plummeted into a small island yesterday.

He said he was working with FBI and Military while the sheriff's department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the man.

A "suicidal" mechanic stole an empty passenger plane from the Seattle-Tacoma airport late Friday, took it for a brief flight that included an aerial loop, then crashed it, in an incident officials said was unrelated to terrorism. It crashed near Ketron Island in Pierce County, the airline tweeted, adding that "we believe" nobody besides the man was on board.

Officials said the man had been a Horizon employee for three-and-a-half years and had clearance to be among aircraft, but to their knowledge, he was not a licensed pilot.

A local aviation expert says the incident shows glaring gaps in airport security. Recordings they made show the plane's alarming movements and capture the confusion and fear the incident caused.

"There is a protocol to not allow anyone singularly to get onboard an aircraft", CNN safety analyst David Soucie said.

"Commercial aircraft are complex machines", Beck said.

"This is going to be a major learning event for the industry", CNN aviation analyst Justin Green said.

At one point, Richard apologizes to those he loves for his actions.

He told them, "Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there". "I'm a broken guy who had a few screws loose. Never really knew it, until now", he added. "That's their job, to be around these airplanes and to work on them", Tilden said. It did not elaborate.

Later the man said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me". We're trying to get accurate information about what is actually going on.

Richard Russell: "Nah, I mean I don't need that much help". "I just heard it; it looked like a bomb".

The air-traffic controller responded calmly, seeming not to want to upset Rich as the conversation continued and he tried to coax Rich into landing somewhere.

"I don't know, man", the pilot answers. I wouldn't want to do that. "I would hope it is for a guy like me". After a ride full of risky loop-the-loops moves and freakish conversation with the air traffic controllers, Richard wasn't able to land safely and crashed into a heavily wooded area on Ketron Island causing the jet became engulfed in flames.

The FBI is investigating the freaky incident in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board and local law enforcement.

The plane was a Q400, a Bombardier turboprop plane, one of about 40 the airline has in its fleet.

Two F-15 jets were scrambled in response to the stolen plane from the Oregon Air National Guard in Portland, Oregon.

Ketron Island has few residents. The jets were armed but did not open fire, North American Aerospace Defence Command spokesman Cameron Hillier said by phone.

Two F-15 fighters were scrambled, about 75 flights were delayed and five fights were cancelled, authorities said. The jets were not involved in the crash, it said.

Authorities said he'd been an employee of Horizon since 2015 and "was fully credentialed and had access to" the cargo area where the Q400 was kept.

"As far as taking off and navigating your way through SeaTac that's a big airport".

The plane was stolen around 8:00 pm (0300 GMT Saturday) and crashed 90 minutes later, officials said.

Thank you for signing up for the 3 Things to Know Newsletter. The plane was "highly fragmented and the wings are off", she said. "This is what we call the inside risk", he said, explaining that the security measures should not only be aimed at passengers, but also at employees.

It wasn't immediately clear what training, if any, the man had in flying planes.

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