Man steals passenger plane from Seattle airport, crashes after 'unauthorized takeoff'

Airliner takes off without authorization at Sea-Tac crashes in Puget Sound	 	 	 			A Horizon Q400 | Source Alaska Airlines

Ketron Island is small - about 230 acres - and fewer than two dozen people live there, Jenkins said.

A plane has crashed near Sea-Tac airport in Seattle after being stolen by an airline worker and perused by F-15 fighter jets. There were no passengers aboard.

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

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man, whose name was not immediately released, "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life".

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.

The plane was taken from a maintenance position and was not scheduled for a passenger flight, said Gary Beck, Horizon Air's president and chief executive officer.

Early reports indicated the man was employed as an airline mechanic, though Alaska Airlines later said on its blog that he was likely a "ground service agent employed by Horizon Air".

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) thanked the Air National Guard for scrambling jets to confront the hijacked aircraft Friday night, and lamented that "there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident".

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Questions are now being asked as to how the man managed to gain entry to the plane, successfully taxi it down the runway and fly it for around 50 minutes before crashing. I wouldn't want to do that.

Sea-Tac operations have resumed as normal, airport officials said; flights had been grounded during the incident. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them.

Instead, police described the man as "suicidal" who experienced "emotional distress" when communicating with air traffic controllers.

In audio recordings with air traffic controllers, the man said he did not want to disappoint them but that he was "just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess". The man sounds calm at times and jokes with operators on the ground, who try to direct him to places to land.

John Waldron, who took dramatic video of the stolen plane flying in a loop, told CNN that he was out for an evening stroll when he saw the two fighter jets following the turboprop airplane. "I would hope it is for a guy like me". "Never really knew it until now".

"Okay this insane. A pilot on the plane in front of us just went rogue and took off on an empty plane bypassing orders from the tower", tweeted Ben Schaechter, a passenger on an aircraft that was taxiing to take off before the incident. "The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low".

Waldron said it seemed that the jets were chasing down the airplane.

The White House said Saturday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpKavanaugh once said president would likely have to testify before grand jury if subpoenaed: report Twitter says InfoWars account will remain online despite violating its rules Melania Trump family immigration lawyer praises so-called "chain migration" MORE, now staying at his Bedminster, New Jersey resort, had been briefed on the situation.

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