Airline mechanic steals a plane from Seattle airport and crashes, officials say

Charlene Craig
August 11, 2018

The 29-year-old unnamed suspect allegedly stole a Horizon Air turboprop, a 76-seat plane, from Sea-Tac International Airport, according to The Associated Press.

Passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which claims to be the ninth busiest United States airport took to Twitter to vent their frustration after the incident grounded all flights for up to any hour.

#BREAKING Alaska Airlines says it is aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. "We believe that it was taken by a single Horizon Air employee, and that no other passengers or crew were on board".

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft before it crashed near Ketron Island.

It is believed the mechanic's lack of flying skills led to the crash, Troyer said.

After the plane approached Ketron Island, Waldron saw a thick column of smoke followed by a loud explosion. A large plume of smoke is visible to residents surrounding Steilacoom, Washington.

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Normal operations at the airport were interrupted briefly but have resumed, the airport said.

The "suicidal" mechanic who commandeered and crashed a plane without passengers from a USA airport in Washington state seemed excited, confused, and at times calm while talking with the air traffic control tower.

The Pierce County Sheriff's department said that the "F 15s made it within a few minutes of theft of plane".

And there was no indication that the incident was an act of terror, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor told KIRO7 news station in Seattle.

The man could reportedly be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is "just a broken guy". "I'm a broken guy who had a few screws loose".

"I would like to apologise to each and every one of them".

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He added that "in the coming days there's very likely going to be a very, very intense public discussion about high-fidelity simulations of the Bombardier Q400 available for use on home flight simulators".

The man, identified only as Rich, seems obviously manic and disturbed in the released audio as air traffic controllers attempt to guide him to safety. It said the jets were not involved in the crash. "I would hope it is for a guy like me".

"This is probably jail time for life, huh?" said Rich.

"But then I was like woah, that's way too low", he said. Witnesses shared footage of the plane's erratic flight before it crashed in Pierce County around 8:45 p.m. "Never really knew it until now".

"Our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard, along with all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees", Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen said in a video posted on Twitter.

He then saw the two jets come back around toward him, but not the plane. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this", the employee said to controllers.

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