Plane stolen by 'suicidal' employee crashes near Seattle
11 August, 2018, 19:57 | Author: Donnie King
The sheriff's office also said that the F-15s arrived minutes after the plane was stolen and kept the aircraft "out of harm's way and people on ground safe".
In a video posted to Alaska Airlines' verified YouTube page late Friday night, Horizon Air's Chief Operating Officer, Constance von Muehlen, said the plane was taken by a Horizon Air employee, and no other passenger or crew were onboard. There were no passengers aboard.
Two F-15s fighter jets pursued the plane but were not involved in the crash, KIRO7 reported.
The incident fell under the ongoing mission of Noble Eagle, the air defense mission launched after the 9/11 attacks, Hillier said.
The sheriff's department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the Pierce County resident, whose name was not immediately released.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement, thanking Air National Guard from Washington and OR for their quick response, and saying, "There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident of a stolen Horizon Airline plane from Sea-Tac Airport". The employee was a "ground service agent", according to Alaska Airlines (Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group). No one else was believed to be on board the Q400 turboprop.
Alaska Airlines confirmed there was an "unauthorized take-off" of a Horizon Air plane from Sea-Tac airport around 9.50 p.m Friday evening (04:50 Saturday UTC). The National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Authority and FBI have all been notified, Alaska Airlines said.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling the jets, which "were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us", he said in a statement.
Authorities called the man "Rich", and tried to convince the man to land the plane as he flew over Puget Sound. I don't want to.
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport officials grounded flights temporarily during the drama but later said normal operations had resumed. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them.
"I thought they were practicing for an air show", he said.
He said he didn't want to disappoint them but that he was "just a broken guy, got a dew screws loose, I guess".
The man could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he's "got a lot of people that care about me" and that he is "just a broken guy".
"Oh man", Rich says, "Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there. Never really knew it until now".
John Waldron, who took dramatic video of the stolen plane flying in a loop, told CNN that he was out for an evening stroll when he saw the two fighter jets following the turboprop airplane.
"I don't know, man", the pilot answers.
"Okay this insane. A pilot on the plane in front of us just went rogue and took off on an empty plane bypassing orders from the tower", tweeted Ben Schaechter, a passenger on an aircraft that was taxiing to take off before the incident. It said the jets were not involved in the crash.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement early Saturday that President Trump was briefed on the incident and is "monitoring the situation".
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