Sunday, 12 August 2018
Airline employee steals a plane from Seattle airport and crashes
An airline employee stole an empty plane from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and flew it for an hour with military jets chasing him before crashing in a wooded area 40 miles away.
The 76-seater aircraft took off without authorization Friday around 8 p.m. local time with an unauthorized Horizon Air employee at the controls, airport officials tweeted.
After flying and doing air stunts for about an hour, the plane crashed at Ketron Island, the Pierce County Sheriff 's Department said. It said the unidentified 29-year-old ground service agent died.
The man "was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island," sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer tweeted. The incident was not considered terrorism, the FBI's Seattle office said.
Authorities initially identified the man as a mechanic, but later said he was a ground service agent, a job that includes directing aircraft for takeoff and gate approach, and de-icing planes.
"Our hearts are with the families of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees," said Constance von Muehlen, the airline's chief operating officer.
The regional airline, which is based in the Seattle-Tacoma airport, is owned by the Alaska Air Group.
In audio recordings of the incident posted on Broadcastify, air traffic controllers can be heard trying to guide the man to land the plane.
"Congratulations, you did that, now let's try to land that airplane safely and not hurt anybody on the ground," an air traffic controller said.
The man responded: "Awwww-right ... dammit.. I don't know man! I don't know! I don't want to. I was kinda hoping that was gonna be it. Ya know?"
The exchange happened during the flight but the timing of the conversation is unclear. The Pierce County Sheriff 's Department described the man as suicidal, but it did not provide any evidence to support that assessment.