'Suicidal' mechanic stole empty plane then crashed into island after F15 chase

The plane exploded upon impact in woodland when it crashed due to ‘doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills

The plane exploded upon impact in woodland when it crashed due to ‘doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills

The incident is not thought to be terrorism-related.

Authorities in the Seattle area have confirmed the crash of a stolen commercial airline plane Friday night.

"An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound".

"Every airport in the country is going to be looking" at whether current protocols need to be changed, Soucie said.

This will be a major learning event for the aviation industry, CNN aviation analyst Justin Green said.

Russell's heartbreaking exchange with air traffic controllers ― who called him "Rich" ― was broadcast live and could be heard online. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess". They should've gone over and said "Hey, ' if nothing else, 'Can I help you?"

The status of the man, described by authorities as "suicidal", was not immediately clear Saturday morning. It did not elaborate.

"Oh man. Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there", Mr Russell responded and later added "this is probably jail time for life, huh?"

"We're lucky it went down on a very unpopulated island", Eckrote said.

"Hey, do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?" he joked. At one point, Russell told a controller he had played a lot of video games.

In addition to disrupting air traffic control, the incident also caused alarm among locals, many of whom recorded the incident. "I don't want to".

"I hope this doesn't ruin your day".

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The plane crashed in a heavily wooded area of thick underbrush on the island, according to Debra Eckrote, the Western Pacific regional chief for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The FBI is investigating the freaky incident in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board and local law enforcement.

Wonder what happened inside the stolen Horizon Air Q400 airplane in Washington state?

A video posted to social media shows the aircraft flying loops as the F-15s flew in pursuit. They pursued the aircraft before it went down on Ketron Island, between Tacoma and Olympia. The jets were armed but did not open fire, North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman Cameron Hillier said by phone. The jets' capability was appropriate to the potential task, one of the sources said, without offering details.

"There were some maneuvers that were done that were incredible maneuvers with the aircraft", Gary Beck, CEO of Horizon Air, said of the flight that ended with a crash onto a small island.

The FBI is involved in the investigation, Troyer said.

The plane was seen by a number of witnesses doing stunts before crashing.

"Hey all! My names Richard Russell, I'm 27 and now living in Sumner, WA with my incredible wife Hannah".

Dozens of personnel were out at the crash site, and co-workers and family members were being interviewed, he said.

"We saw the jets circle back after and she texted that there was no plane", she added. "In terms of improvements that we might make as a company and as an industry to make this very safe industry even safer in the future, it's too early to say".

But the plane made turns and aerobatic maneuvers that suggest some skill, she said.

As two fighter pilots flew behind and closed in on the Q400, Richard crash-landed the plane in a cloud of smoke.

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