Horizon Air worker accused of stealing, crashing plane had Alaska ties

In a tweet Alaska Airlines confirmed they were aware of an incident involving an unauthorised take-off

In a tweet Alaska Airlines confirmed they were aware of an incident involving an unauthorised take-off

Airport employee Richard Russell shockingly stole an Alaska Airlines plane at the Seattle-Tacoma airport on August 10 and took it for a freaky joyride by himself before it crashed. "Didn't really know it until now", the man said, according to audio from air traffic controllers.

The unauthorized pilot was described by the Pierce County Sheriff's Department as a "suicidal male".

It is believed that he was a mechanic who took the plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

He added, "The responding fighter pilots flew alongside the aircraft and were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us, but in the end the man flying the stolen plane crashed".

On Saturday, airline and Sea-Tac representatives said Russell, who identified himself as "Rich" to air traffic controllers, was fully credentialed and had access to the cargo area where the plane was.

Two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled as "Rich" flew the passenger plane in an aerial loop, then headed south.

Airline officials say the man who stole a plane from Sea-Tac International Airport is believed to be a ground service agent.

Authorities said an airline employee had made "an unauthorised take-off" without any passengers on board.

"There were some maneuvers that were done that were incredible maneuvers with the aircraft", Gary Beck, CEO of Horizon Air, said of the flight that ended with a crash onto a small island. It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this ... An Alaska Air spokesman said he did not have information about how the incident occurred. However, "Rich" also later tells them that he can't figure out how to pressurize the plane and that he's getting "lightheaded" after having vomited at least once. Ground service agents' job duties are to load and unload bags, direct aircraft for takeoff and de-ice planes in the winter.

He joked that he didn't need help landing the plane, because he'd "played some video games before".

"I've got a lot of people that care about me", the man later said.

During the radio exchange, an air traffic control personnel by the name of Captain Bill attempted to steer Rich away from flying over the airport in order to avoid a collision that would risk the lives of multiple people.

Alaska Airlines confirmed the plane crashed "in a wooded area on Ketron Island" and said that "no ground structures were involved at the crash site".

Ehl said arrivals were allowed to continue to clear the airspace, but nine flights were diverted to other airports.

Officials said the plane later crashed into the sea. However, the better method of preventing this kind of scenario is to make sure joyriders or terrorists can't simply swipe the plane at whim. I don't know! I don't want to. "A pilot on the plane in front of us just went rogue and took off on an empty plane bypassing orders from the tower".

Government officials and executives at Alaska Air and Horizon repeatedly said it was too early to draw conclusions about the employee's behavior or precisely what security changes should be made in response to Friday night's freaky incident. The man's condition after the crash wasn't immediately known.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.