Suicidal US man who stole Alaska Airlines plane had airport credentials

A Horizon Q400 airplane

A Horizon Q400 airplane

Air traffic controllers tried to encourage the man to land before the plane crashed, a recording being shared online reveals.

"There is a runway just off to your right side in about a mile", the controller says, reffering to an airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The pilot - who is addressed as "Rich" in the recordings - says he's "got a lot of people that care about me" and that he was "just a broken guy".

In one, the controller can be heard telling the pilot: "What we don't want to see is you get hurt or anyone else get hurt, so like I said, if you want to land, that's probably the best way to go".

As reported by NBC, in his communications with the air traffic control tower, the man mentions "having a few screws loose" and showed signs of suicidal thoughts.

"NORAD fighters were working to redirect the aircraft out over the Pacific Ocean when it crashed on the southern tip of Ketron Island in the southern end of Puget Sound", NORAD said in a statement.

The cause of the crash was not immediately known, but the two F-15 fighter jets which were scrambled following the incident, did not bring the plane down, Eckrote said.

The sheriff´s office said the F-15s arrived minutes after the plane was stolen and kept the aircraft "out of harm´s way and people on the ground safe".

There was no indication that the incident was an act of terror, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said on Twitter.

Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and operates shorter routes throughout the US West.

Russell, 29, was apparently able to climb into an otherwise empty 76-seater Horizon Air turboprop, take off, and fly for around an hour while pulling off daring aerial maneuvers on Friday-all with military F-15s at his tail.

"The fact he was out there by himself, towing the aircraft by himself. then moving the tracker out of the way, so he could get on the aircraft and move".

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She said the plane was "highly fragmented" and the wings were detached from the fuselage.

Trees burn near the Friday, Aug. 10, 2018 crash site of a Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 turboprop stolen from Sea-Tac International Airport.

Richard Russell was a amusing, gentle and hardworking man, said family and a colleague of the airline employee who stole a passenger plane from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and flew it for an hour before he crashed and was killed.

Authorities said the man had made "an unauthorised take-off" late on Friday local time, forcing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to close.

He had no goal to be at that plane Friday evening "other than. what he did do", Tilden said.

Preliminary info is that a mechanic from unknown airlines stole plane.

According to Mike Ehl, director of operations at Sea-Tac, 75 flights were delayed, nine flights were diverted to other airports and five flights were canceled.

"We believe it was taken by a single Horizon Air employee and that no other passengers or crew were onboard", Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen said in a statement.

"That means I lift a lot of bags, like a lot of bags, so many bags", he said.

The freakish incident highlights one of the biggest potential threats for commercial air travelers - airline or airport employees causing mayhem, according to the report.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden told Saturday´s press conference that the man had worked for Horizon Air since February 2015.

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