'Suicidal' mechanic steals plane from Seattle airport
'Suicidal' mechanic steals plane from Seattle airport
Airliner takes off without authorization at Sea-Tac crashes in Puget Sound A Horizon Q400 | Source Alaska Airlines
11 August, 2018, 14:12
Sea-Tac operations have resumed as normal, airport officials said.
The Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the incident, said Brad Tilden, the CEO of Alaska Air Group, in an online statement.
Witnesses present at the airport reported a chase between the "stolen" plane and two F-15 fighter jets, which was scrambled following the "theft".
The Pierce County Sheriff's Office believes the man acted alone and the incident was not related to terrorism. The local sheriff's office said the crash may have been caused by the man "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills".
"Our hearts are with the families of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees", said Constance von Muehlen, the airline's chief operating officer.
The plane, a 76-seater Q400 turboprop aircraft, belonged to Alaska Airlines.
Local media showed video of a fire from the crash on Ketron Island in Puget Sound.
The man also said he had no flying experience - but had "played some video games before".
Audio of the rogue pilot speaking on radio to the SeaTac air traffic control has been shared online, from where it has since gone viral.
The plane crashed at about 9:30 p.m. on Ketron Island, about 40 miles south of Sea-Tac Airport. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess.
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"But I do know there were people on the plane that were kind of panicked", he said.
"I felt like we were on the ground and we were safe, we weren't in the sky while something was going on", he said after getting off the plane.
At another point, Rich said "I've got a lot of people that care about me".
Morgan Chesky, a reporter for KOMO News, wrote on Twitter, "Per JBLM source: After being contacted by F-15's, stolen plane began to nose dive, crashing in north Pierce County".
He said in a statement on Twitter: "This is not a terrorist incident".
Royal King told The Seattle Times he was photographing a wedding when he saw the low-flying turboprop being chased by two F-15s.
Only the unknown pilot was on the plane, according to authorities.
A plume of smoke has been seen near Ketron Island, Washington, the US Coastguard reported.
Ms Morse said her mother, who lives near the crash site, had said eight minutes later that her whole house shook.
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