Mechanic steals plane then dies on joyride

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The aircraft took off and began manoeuvering over Puget Sound. The aircraft crashed on a small island outside of the city.

"If this pilot, instead of doing what he ended up doing, had wanted to crash the airplane into downtown Seattle, the fighter (jets) were not going to be able to stop him; air traffic control was not going to stop him", Green said.

In a news release issued Saturday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said two F-15C alert aircraft were scrambled from Portland but did not fire upon the plane.

Horizon Air COO Constance von Muehlen said in a late-night video message "our hearts are with the family of the individual onboard as well as all our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees". We'll move quickly to correct the record and we'll only point to the best information we have at the time.

A 29-year-old man who stole an empty passenger jet from Seattle airport and then crashed it was an airline worker with full credentials, authorities say.

The plane took off without authorization around 8 p.m. PT, with the employee - who was not a pilot - at the controls, according to airport officials.

The FBI is leading investigations into the incident and special agent Jay Tabb said there are dozens of people at the crash site working to find answers.

The airline tells The Associated Press that the plane was a Horizon Air Q400 and it believed no passengers were on board.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden said the man had been "background checked".

It was unclear where he got the skills to perform such manoeuvres, authorities said. "I've played video games before so I know what I'm doing a little bit".

As Russell nosedived toward the water, "We were all screaming, 'Oh my god, oh my god!' and I was yelling, 'Pull up, pull up!'" Christenson said.

Plane stolen from Seattle airport crashed into nearby island
They believe there were no passengers on board and no structures hit when the plane crashed into Ketron Island on Friday night. NBC reported that the man expressed distress about his mental health while communicating with the air traffic control tower.

He flew for about one hour, often erratically, before crashing on Ketron Island in Puget Sound, about 25 miles (40 km) to the southwest. Video showed flames amidst trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry.

A ground service agent's tasks don't involve touching planes' controls, CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo said. "No others involved", the office of the Pierce County Sheriff said.

In an update on its website, Alaska Airlines said that it believed a "ground service agent" employed by Horizon Air was responsible, and that the plane had been taken from a maintenance position and was "not scheduled for passenger flight".

The plane was a Horizon Air Q400, according to a statement from Horizon's partner airline Alaska Airlines. An airline employee had stolen a 78-seat turboprop airliner and conducted a unsafe joyride, complete with loops and other stunts.

Fortunately, the only death in the crash was the unnamed joyrider, who still has not yet been named, although air-traffic controllers call him "Rich" during their exchanges.

Through all of this, air traffic controllers and other professionals gently worked to guide "Rich" to a safe landing, directing him to nearby runways.

"Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there".

"I would like to apologize to each and every one of them", the man added. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this", he said.

Late yesterday's full stop at Seattle's Sea-Tac airport turned out to have a freaky and ultimately tragic reason.

"Still to this day, you go into the Wasilla High gym, there's a weight belt that says Beebo", Howell said.

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