Stolen Alaska Airlines plane crashes after unauthorized takeoff from Seattle-Tacoma airport

Stolen Alaska Airlines plane crashes after unauthorized takeoff from Seattle-Tacoma airport

Ed Troyer, of the sheriff's office, described Russell as "suicidal".

Earlier in the evening, officials at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport said an Alaska Airlines plane had been stolen and later crashed.

Two F-15 fighters were scrambled, about 75 flights were delayed and five fights were cancelled, authorities said.

The sparsely populated island remained close to ferry traffic Saturday morning. We believe there are no passengers on board.

Russell appears to have been a ground service agent, the paper said.

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the man who stole a plane from Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle before crashing it into a small, nearby island. Alaska Airlines said he was an employee who helps direct aircraft to gates and de-ice planes.

Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air officials said they were still working closely with authorities to investigate what happened.

Tilden said the system in place is to credential and secure employees and air fields, but not planes.

The incident has also raised questions about the physical security of the planes. Russell used a push-back tractor to rotate the plane 180 degrees before getting in and taxiing the aircraft.

"Our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard as well as all our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees, "she said in a video message". 'The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low'.

Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling jets and said in a statement "there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident".

A sheriff's department spokesman said the man may have been suicidal but there was no terrorism connection.

"The fighters were directed to fly supersonic to expedite the intercept", according to a NORAD news release.

An air traffic controller called the man "Rich", and tried to convince him to land the airplane.

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"You know, the mama orca with the baby. I was kinda hoping that was gonna be it. Ya know?" But ... the air traffic controller had to tell him how to set what they call the "bugs" - they're just little sort of little levers, or little notches on your indicator for your heading ... which is kind of basic.

"Hey, do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?" he joked. "I wouldn't want to do that". "So, I started to capture video, just because I thought it was kind of freaky", he told CNN. "He had to know where he was going and how to get to a runway", added Furois.

The man seemed to understand that his actions would have dire consequences. "This is probably jail time for life, huh?"

"I've got a lot of people that care about me". "I just heard it; it looked like a bomb".

"I would like to apologize to each and every one of them", the man added. Got a few screws loose, I guess.

An exchange between Rich and the controller not long before the plane crashed, perhaps the final exchange, was recorded by Aviation journalist Jon Ostrower at 8:47 p.m. and posted to his Air Current website.

The controller responds: "OK, Rich".

After take-off he performed at least one dramatic roll, pulling the aircraft up just metres from the water before gaining altitude again.

"As far as taking off and navigating your way through SeaTac that's a big airport".

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

"The FBI continues to work with our state, local, and federal partners to gather a complete picture of what transpired with tonight's unauthorized Horizon aircraft takeoff and crash", the agency said. The aircraft then crashed into Ketron Island, 40 km to the southwest of the Seattle/Tacoma Airport.

They would not comment on Russell's mental health. "There are such significant challenges to preventing inappropriate security behavior", he said.

The man went through various background checks to get clearance to be in the secured area, according to authorities. But a Senate version of the bill has not advanced to a vote.

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