Authorities probe how airline employee could steal passenger plane

The plane stolen from a Seattle airport Friday was spotted doing maneuvers before it crashed

The plane stolen from a Seattle airport Friday was spotted doing maneuvers before it crashed

Russell, 29, worked for Horizon Air for 3½ years.

The 29-year-old used a pushback tractor to first manoeuvre the aircraft so he could board and then take off on Friday evening, authorities added.

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the man who stole a plane from Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle before crashing it into a small, nearby island.

The pilot's erratic flying and the two jets tailing it alarmed residents all over the South Sound.

One user tweeted, "Some dude stole a plane from #Seatac (Allegedly), did a loop-the-loop, nearly crashed into #ChambersBay, then crossed in front of our party, chased by fighter jets and subsequently crashed". Whether or not "Rich" realized it, the national guard had scrambled a pair of F-15 fighters to protect the airports in case he made any threatening moves toward one of them.

Airport employee Richard Russell shockingly stole an Alaska Airlines plane at the Seattle-Tacoma airport on August 10 and took it for a weird joyride by himself before it crashed.

"In this season of life, we enjoy exploring as much as possible, whether its a day (or so) trip to one of Alaska Airline's destinations or visiting a new area of Washington", he wrote.

The incident shut down Sea-Tac Airport but flights are returning to normal.

Investigators would not name the employee who took the plane, but in a statement read by a family friend on Saturday night, the family confirmed it was Russell, who was married and lived in Sumner, Washington.

"Most terrorists don´t do loops over the water", said Sheriff Paul Pastor.

Video showed the Horizon Air Q400 doing large loops and other unsafe maneuvers as the sun set on the Puget Sound. There were no passengers aboard.

It is believed that he was a mechanic who took the plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Though aircraft mechanics have broad access and routinely taxi planes along the tarmac, crew members are not supposed to be allowed inside the cockpit.

Earlier in the flight, the man says: "This is probably, like, jail time for life, huh?" They're not as easy to fly as say a Cessna 150.

Horizon is owned by Alaska Air Group, Inc., which also owns Alaska Airlines.

Southers says that if the man knew how to do loops he likely had the skills to target people on the ground. The aircraft then crashed into Ketron Island, 40 km to the southwest of the Seattle/Tacoma Airport. Video showed flames amidst trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry.

The United States has approximately 900,000 aviation workers, according to the most recent federal data, and the screening procedures they are subjected to are "pretty rudimentary", said Mary Schiavo, the former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Horizon Air CEO Gary Beck also said the man who stole the plane did not have a pilot's license and did not know how to fly a commercial airline.

The conversation between the man, addressed as Rich/Richard, and the air-traffic controller right before the Horizon Air Q400 plane crash, was released by Aviation journalist Jon Ostrower on Twitter.

Horizon Air employee Richard Russell told an air traffic controller he was "just a broken man" minutes before dying late Friday in the Bombardier Q400 twin-engine turboprop plane, appearing to apologize for his actions.

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