An Airplane Stolen From Seattle-Tacoma International Crashed After Trying To Do Stunts
On Friday night, a Washington man stole a plane from the Seattle-Tacoma airport, and later crashed it. The 29-year-old man — believed to be a Horizon Air employee — took off in an unauthorized solo flight, attempted to perform stunts in the air with a Q400 turboprop plane, and was chased by two military fighter jets, The Seattle Times reported.
The plane crashed approximately 90 minutes after takeoff on Friday night on Ketron Island, which is about 40 miles south of the airport in the Puget Sound, the newspaper reported.
The man spoke with air traffic control, which was recorded, and was identified as "Rich" by at least one speaker on the recording. Air traffic control employees attempted to convince the man to turn around so they don't lose contact. The man instead talked about his loved ones.
"I've got a lot of people that care about me and it's gonna disappoint them to hear that I did this," the man said, via the recording.
He then apologized for taking the plane.
The FBI said Friday night's incident does not appear to be terrorism. The Seattle airport has resumed normal operations.
Two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled from Portland shortly after the plane took off, according to KOMO News. The fighter jets were not involved in the plane's crashing. "North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) launched 2 F-15C alert aircraft from Portland, who proceeded to intercept the Q400 in the vicinity of McCord AFB. The fighters were directed to fly supersonic to expedite the intercept," NORAD said in statement of Friday's incident. "The stolen aircraft initially tracked south from Seattle-Tacoma. 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."
The fighter jets did not crash the plane, according to NORAD.
"NORAD fighters did not fire upon the aircraft," the statement added.
Companies involved quickly offered their condolences to the friends and families of the unauthorized pilot and cooperation to law enforcement.
"I want to share how incredibly sad all of us at Alaska are about this incident. Our heart is heavy for the family and friends of the person involved," Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden wrote in a statement.
Gary Beck, Horizon Air CEO and president, said the airline's priority will continue to be safety. "Our first priority is always the safety and care of our people and guests," Beck wrote in a statement. "We are working closely with the authorities and our own safety teams to thoroughly understand this incident. I want to thank the employees of Horizon Air and our guests. Our primary objective is to do everything possible to support all of you."