Mechanic steals empty plane from Seattle's airport, crashes

Mechanic steals empty plane from Seattle's airport, crashes

"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".

Officials said he was a 3.5-year Horizon employee and had clearance to be among aircraft, but that to their knowledge, he wasn't a licensed pilot. Russell, who has not been officially identified, was believed to be the only person onboard and was presumably killed, according to officials from Alaska Airlines.

Authorities described him as being suicidal, adding that the incident is not related to terrorism.

The married mechanic - who has not been named - crashed on Ketron Island, 30 miles south west of Seattle, at 8pm local time.

Toward midnight on Friday, the investigation was handed off to the FBI, which was working with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies, the Seattle Times reported.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, says on Twitter Friday night that a 29-year-old airline mechanic stole the Horizon Air Q400 from Sea-Tac International Airport.

Moments later Russell crashed the plane onto the sparsely-populated Ketron Island.

"They said there was some kind of emergency somewhere on the runway, and after that we just sat there for 40 minutes", one told Reuters.

Authorities said he'd been an employee of Horizon since 2015 and "was fully credentialed and had access to" the cargo area where the Q400 was kept.

Video from a witness on the ground shows the plane at one point pulling up for a loop, putting the aircraft upside-down and then pulling back up just feet above a body of water.

Recordings of his communication with air traffic controllers portray a man who, in his own words, had "a few screws loose".

Video taken by a bystander showed the 76-seat plane making a big, slow loop-the-loop as F-15 fighter jets gave chase, then flying low over Puget Sound before crashing into Ketron Island, a sparsely-populated area in the northwestern USA state of Washington.

Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement early Saturday morning that the airline was "working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened".

The conversation between the man, addressed as Rich/Richard, and the air-traffic controller right before the Horizon Air Q400 plane crash, was released by Aviation journalist Jon Ostrower on Twitter.

"I've got a lot of people that care about me", the pilot says.

"Oh man", Rich says, "those guys will rough me up if I try and land there".

An ground service agent at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is dead after stealing and crashing a commercial airliner on Friday. He said he was from Wasilla, Alaska, lived in Sumner, Washington, and was married in 2012.

"Hey pilot guy can this thing do a backflip you think?" said Russell to the control tower. Investigators were trying to retrieve the plane's flight data recorder and its cockpit voice recorder. Near the end of the video, you can also see the aftermath of the crash.