U.S. airline worker steals plane, takes it for flight before crashing it

Airline Worker Steals Aircraft, Crashes Near Seattle

Passenger plane stolen by airline employee at SeaTac Airport crashes in South Puget Sound | CHEK

Local media citing sources at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) air force base said one or more F-15 fighter planes contacted the rogue aircraft and it crashed soon afterwards.

The man sounds calm at times and jokes with operators on the ground, who try to direct him to places to land.

He said over the radio:"I got a lot of people that care about me and it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this". They should've gone over and said "Hey, ' if nothing else, 'Can I help you?" "I'm a broken guy who had a few screws loose".

Yesterday's crash happened because Mr Russell was "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills", the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said.

The weird incident involving a worker authorities said was suicidal points to one of the biggest potential perils for commercial air travel: airline or airport employees causing mayhem.

Officials at the Sea-Tac Airport say an airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff in Washington state and has crashed.

A Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, reported to be hijacked, flies over University Place, Washington, the USA, before crashing in the South Puget Sound, August 10, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.

The plane was a Q400, a Bombardier turboprop plane, one of about 40 the airline has in its fleet.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life", according to the AP.

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"The setup in aviation in America is we secure the airfield and then we have the mindset that we have employees that are credentialed and authorized to be there", Tilden said, adding that the airline was working with authorities to investigate.

She said the plane was "highly fragmented" and the wings were detached from the fuselage. Russell said he was having a "blast" and had learned to fly from video games.

The couple traveled to Puerto Rico earlier this year, where Hannah Instagrammed a photo of them sitting on the beach with the caption: 'I'm so thankful for this man!'

His family members said in a statement they were stunned and heartbroken. "Never knew it, until now".

Audio exchanges between an air traffic controller and the pilot have been released.

"Oh, Richard", the controller responds. He said the military planes were not involved in the crash. His work as a ground agent included handling baggage, tidying airplanes and operating tow vehicles to move aircraft, and he was "fully credentialed and had access to that area legitimately". At that speed, the F-15s could have reached the Q400 in less than five minutes after take off from Portland.

President Donald Trump was briefed and the White House praised authorities´ quick response to the crisis.

As two fighter pilots flew behind and closed in on the Q400, Richard crash-landed the plane in a cloud of smoke.

Gary Howell, a Wasilla High track and field coach, said he remembered Russell as a amusing guy who also had a smile and a joke and was a great team player.

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