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An airline worker stole an empty plane that he ultimately crashed into an island close to Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport. Listen to his ultimate moments as he talks forwards and backwards with air visitors management.
USA TODAY

Federal investigators on Saturday labored to piece collectively how a “suicidal” man was capable of steal an empty passenger plane from a Washington airport earlier than taking it on a weird joyride and crashing on a close-by island. 

The 29-year-old beginner pilot was presumed lifeless after the Bombardier Q400, stolen from Horizon Airlines, slammed into Ketron Island, about 30 miles south of the airport, setting off a big forest hearth.

During the joyride, the person carried out harmful air maneuvers and was pursuit by F-15 army fighter jets. Video confirmed the empty 76-seat plane doing giant loops and different harmful maneuvers because the solar was setting.

The pilot, whose identify has not been launched, was described by Ed Troyer, public info officer for Pierce County, Washington, as a “suicidal male” and resident of the county, however not a terrorist. Alaska Airlines mentioned he was an worker who helps direct plane to gates and de-ice planes.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor mentioned the person “did something foolish and may well have paid with his life.”

On Saturday, investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board mentioned they had been working to get better the cockpit recorder, which might have captured the person speaking as he commandeered the plane. Debra Eckrote, regional director for the NTSB’s western Pacific area, mentioned the recorder might maintain clues for a motive. 

She mentioned the occasion was “very unusual,” including “it’s not like we get this every day.” 

Eckrote mentioned the plane crashed in a closely treed space. Both wings had been ripped from it and the remainder of the plane was left in items, she mentioned. 

Only minutes after the plane made its weird, unauthorized takeoff round eight p.m., the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) scrambled two F-15s out of Portland to intercept it. NORAD mentioned the fighters had been making an attempt to direct him out over the Pacific Ocean when it went down however didn’t hearth on the plane.

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After an “unauthorized takeoff” late Friday night time, a 29-year-old man stole an Alaska Airlines plane and crashed it close by into Ketron Island.
USA TODAY

During the ordeal, the self-proclaimed pilot could possibly be heard on audio recordings telling air visitors controllers that he’s “just a broken guy.”

An air visitors controller known as the person “Rich,” and tried to persuade him to land the airplane.

“There is a runway just off to your right side in about a mile,” the controller says, referring to an airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

“Oh man. Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there,” the person responded, later including, “This is probably jail time for life, huh?”

Later the person mentioned: “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this … just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess.”

The U.S. Coast Guard despatched a 45-foot vessel to the crash scene after witnesses reported seeing a big plume of smoke within the air, Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi mentioned. Video confirmed fiery flames amidst bushes on the island, which is sparsely populated and solely accessible by ferry.

Alaska Airlines mentioned the plane was in a “maintenance position” when it was stolen and never scheduled for a passenger flight. Horizon Air is a part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes all through the West within the United States. The Q400 is a turboprop plane with 76 seats.

The FBI’s Seattle workplace issued an announcement early Saturday, saying the investigation remains to be ongoing and that the info gathered “does not suggest a terrorist threat or additional, pending criminal activity.”

“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 mentioned in an announcement. “Our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees.”

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Royal King advised the Seattle Times he was photographing a marriage when he noticed a plane and two F-15 fighter jets trailing it. He mentioned he didn’t see the crash however noticed smoke.

“It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie,” King advised the Times. “The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low.”

In an announcement, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee praised the responding fighter pilots that flew alongside the stolen plane.

“I want to thank the Air National Guard from Washington and Oregon for scrambling jets to keep Washingtonians safe,” Inslee tweeted, including: “Those pilots are trained for moments like tonight and showed they are ready and capable.”

Contributing: Emily Brown, USA TODAY; KING-TV, Seattle; Associated Press

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