Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Alaska Airlines plane crashes after unauthorised take-off from Seattle airport

Alaska Airlines plane crashes after unauthorised take-off from Seattle airport

A "suicidal" employee stole an Alaska Airlines passenger plane from Seattle Airport late Friday local time and it later crashed just north of the city, the airline and airport authorities confirmed.

However, dismissing the hijacking reports, the Pierce County Sheriff's Office said it was not a terrorist incident, adding the man was 29-year-old local.

Its believed the pilot was killed in the crash, and authorities are still trying to figure out how someone could steal a commercial airliner and take off from a major USA airport unauthorized. "The responding fighter pilots flew alongside the aircraft and we were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us, but in the end, the man flying the stolen plane crashed on Ketron Island". It had described him as a airline mechanic, but Horizon Air said later that he was a ground service agent responsible for directing and de-icing aircraft.

During another part of the exchange, the man said he was concerned he was going to run low on fuel.

The man could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is "just a broken guy".

At one point, he apologizes and says he is a "broken guy" with "a few screws loose".

"But then I was like woah, that's way too low", he said. It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this... "Never really knew it until now". It did not elaborate.

"This is probably jail time for life, huh?" he asks. "I was kind of hoping that was gonna be it".

"Oh, Richard", said the controller, "We're not going to worry or think about that. But could you start a left-hand turn, please?" They even got a Q400 pilot in to help with instructions.

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Audio of the rogue pilot speaking on radio to the SeaTac air traffic control has been shared online, from where it has since gone viral. I don't know man!

When an official encouraged him to attempt a landing, he said: "I don't know".

Witnesses in the area posted videos to social media showing the 76-passenger plane, meant for short flights, doing risky ariel maneuvers while F-15 fighter jets scrambled behind it. "They probably have anti-aircraft". Military jets were scrambled from Portland, but it does not appear that these jets were involved in the crash of the Horizon aircraft.

Washington State governor Jay Inslee later confirmed the events in a statement.

The sheriff's department initially described the man who stole the plane as a mechanic.

His first thought was that they were practicing for an air show.

"Everyone was literally frozen in place muttering about what possibly happened", he said.

The two F 15 chased the plane, however, did not shoot down the Q400. He was chased by military jets before crashing into an island in the Puget Sound. The plane, which was taken from a maintenance position and was not scheduled for passenger flight, crashed about an hour later in a wooded area on Ketron Island in rural Pierce County.

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