Richard Russell took off in a stolen plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday evening, flew for about an hour with navy jets chasing him and crashed the 76-seater Horizon Air plane in a wooded island, authorities stated.
Russell was the one particular person aboard, and didn’t survive, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department stated.
“This is a complete shock to us,” the household stated in an announcement Saturday evening. “We are devastated by these events, and Jesus is truly the only one holding this family together right now.”
Richard Russell labored at Horizon Air for years
Russell had labored as a Horizon Air floor service agent for three-and-a-half years. His job included directing plane for takeoff and gate strategy, dealing with baggage and tidying and de-icing planes.
Richard Russell, or “Beebo” as some referred to as him, was “a faithful husband, a loving son and a good friend,” his household stated.
The 29-year-old was “kind and gentle to each person he met,” his household stated in an announcement Saturday evening.
Officials do not imagine Russell had a pilot’s license, and they do not know how he knew to fly the plane. Jeremy Kaelin stated he labored with Russell in 2016, and remembered “happy, funny” chats with him within the break room.
“He was a nice guy,” Kaelin stated. “He was definitely one of the harder working people on the ramps.”
F-15s didn’t convey the plane down.
Russell had labored a shift Friday when he took a plane parked in a upkeep space of the Seattle-Tacoma airport, stated Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group, which owns Horizon Air.
He used a automobile referred to as a pushback tractor to maneuver the empty 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop plane and took off with out authorization at 7:32 p.m. native time Friday, officers stated.
Russell flew for about an hour, speaking periodically with air site visitors controllers and making turns and even some aerobatic maneuvers as two armed F-15 jets adopted him, officers stated.
Video from a witness on the bottom exhibits the plane at one level pulling up for a loop, placing the plane upside-down after which pulling again up simply ft above a physique of water.
The plane finally crashed on sparsely populated Ketron Island, beginning a hearth within the woods and killing Russell. No one exterior the plane was injured, officers stated.
The explanation for the crash wasn’t instantly recognized however authorities stated the F-15s didn’t convey the plane down.
Gaps in airline security
While the crash solely killed Russell, the brazen stealing of a business airline from a significant US airport has uncovered a spot in airline security.
FBI stated it doesn’t think about the incident terror-related as authorities attempt to piece collectively how a security scare of that magnitude occurred at main airport.
Investigators on Saturday have been making an attempt to retrieve the plane’s flight knowledge recorder and its cockpit voice recorder.
“He might have been talking to himself in the cockpit,” so the voice recorder might present extra data that wasn’t recorded in radio site visitors, stated Debra Eckrote, regional chief for the National Transportation Safety Board.
Experts say the crash uncovered alarming gaps in airport security, and is prone to immediate a significant assessment trade security measures.
“This is going to be a major learning event for the industry,” CNN aviation analyst Justin Green stated. “This is a really big deal.”
Russell managed to steal a 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop from a upkeep space by himself. He was in uniform, had correct credentials and had clearance to be in safe plane areas, in accordance with Brad Tilden, Alaska Airlines CEO.
“They’re credential employees. They’re there to work on the airplanes. … This is aviation in America. The doors of the airplanes are not keyed like a car. There is not an ignition key like a car. The setup in aviation in America is we secure the airfield,” Tilden instructed reporters Saturday.
He appeared to have damaged protocol a number of instances. He should not have been in a position to board the plane alone and go unnoticed. He additionally moved the plane by himself whereas protocol calls for 2 folks to tow an plane.
“The fact he was out there by himself, towing the aircraft by himself … then moving the tracker out of the way, so he could get on the aircraft and move. The fact that all of that happened without even being noticed by anyone on the ground service crew, that is just phenomenal to me,” stated CNN analyst and former FAA security inspector David Soucie.
CNN’s Dan Simon, Jason Hanna, Mark LeBien and Ray Sanchez contributed to this report.