Airline Worker Steals Aircraft, Crashes Near Seattle

BREAKING NEWS: Horizon Air Q400 Hijacked from Seattle

The official wasn't authorised to discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

They said he used a machine called a pushback tractor to first maneuver the aircraft so he could board and then take off Friday evening.

Sheriff Paul A. Pastor said at the press conference that there was no sign that it was a terrorist attack.

"We believe it was taken by a single Horizon Air employee and that no other passengers or crew were onboard", Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen said in a statement.

The FBI is involved in the investigation, Troyer said.

Video taken by a bystander showed the passenger airplane making an unlikely upside-down loop, then flying low over Puget Sound before crashing into the sparsely populated Ketron Island in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington.

A ground service agent's responsibilities don't involve touching planes' controls, CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo said.

Southers, the aviation security expert, said the man could have caused mass destruction.

Witnesses filmed the passenger plane performing loops and being pursued by two F-15 military jets near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state before it went down. Fire trucks had to travel to the island by ferry to extinguish the blaze. No one was injured on the ground, authorities said.

"They need to really look at their process and procedures and see what fell through the cracks here", he said.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said the man, who has been identified as Richard Russell, was 29 years old and "suicidal". The aircraft nose-dives toward the water before pulling up, flying low and sending locals into a panic.

Russell had worked as a Horizon Air ground service agent for three-and-a-half years.

Video showed the Horizon Air Q400, a turboprop plane that seats 76 people, doing large loops and other risky stunts as the sun set on Puget Sound in Washington state.

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Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said the man who stole the plane is a mechanic at the airport.

He flew for about one hour, often erratically with attempts at aerial stunts, before crashing onto sparsely populated Ketron Island in Puget Sound, some 25 miles (40 km) to the southwest.

At one point, an air traffic controller advises he should land at the airfield of the nearby military base, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the Times reported. "They're not as easy to fly as, say, a Cessna 150, so I don't know how he achieved the experience that he did", Beck said.

"Got a few screws loose, I guess", Russell is heard saying in the recording.

Normal operations at Sea-Tac resumed around 9:30 Friday night.

They believe there were no passengers on board and no structures hit when the plane crashed into Ketron Island on Friday night. The crash sparked a 2-acre wildfire. The plane crashed, killing Rich Russell. I think I might mess something up there, too.

"It's very unusual", she said. Investigators are trying to find how he got on the plane.

Russell had been described as "suicidal".

On Saturday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told media that President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident and is now "monitoring the situation" in Seattle.

Alaska Air said the F-15s were scrambled from a Portland airbase.

"That's their job, to be around these planes", said Brad Tilden, president and CEO of Alaska.

Alaska Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at Sea-Tac International Airport Friday evening, August 10, 2018, in SeaTac, Wash.

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