Family of man who stole and crashed plane 'shocked and devastated'

Family of man who stole and crashed plane 'shocked and devastated'

The 76-seat, twin-engine turboprop Bombardier Q400, belonging to Horizon Air, took off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at 19:32 local time (02:32 GMT).

This frame grab taken from footage filmed by bystander John Wauldron on 10 August 2018 shows an empty passenger airplane, stolen from the Seattle-Tacoma airport, making an unlikely upside-down aerial loop before crashing into the sparsely populated Ketron Island.

Officials said the man had been a Horizon employee for three-and-a-half years and had clearance to be among aircraft, but to their knowledge, he was not a licensed pilot.

SeaTac Airport was temporarily grounded amid a security threat.

"He had access legitimately" to the plane said Mike Ehl, director of aviation operations at the airport in the USA state of Washington, adding that "no security violations were committed".

The unlicensed pilot seemed scattered in a 25 minute recording of his conversation with an air traffic controller. In one video shot by a witness on the ground, a man can be heard exclaiming that the pilot "just did a loop-the-loop".

At one point, he apologizes and says he is a "broken guy" with "a few screws loose". "Never really knew it, until now", he added.

People on Twitter who were following the aviation audio reported that the man attempted a "barrel roll" with the plane at one point - or at least claimed he was going to do so.

Alaska Airlines said: 'We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400.

Mr Southers said the man could have caused mass destruction. "If he had the skill set to do loops with a plane like this, he certainly had the capacity to fly it into a building and kill people on the ground", he said. Whether or not "Rich" realized it, the national guard had scrambled a pair of F-15 fighters to protect the airports in case he made any threatening moves toward one of them. "I played video games before so, you know, I know what I'm doing a little bit". He said the military planes were not involved in the crash.

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The married airport employee, 29, "hijacked" the Alaska Airlines plane before performing stunts in the sky as he was tailed by fighter jets today.

"We just need to get out there and look at the wreckage", Eckrote said at a press briefing at the Steilacoom ferry dock.

"I thought they were practicing for an air show", he said.

"Alright (man's name), congratulations, you did that", an air traffic controller can be heard on recording.

"This is not a terrorist incident", Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff's office wrote on Twitter.

No passengers were on board and there were no reports of injuries on the ground. "I was kinda hoping that was gonna be it. Ya know?"

According to officials with PCSD, Federal agencies will lead the investigation.

President Donald Trump was briefed and the White House praised authorities' quick response to the crisis. He said he didn't see the crash but saw smoke.

Only minutes after the plane made its freaky, unauthorized takeoff around 8 p.m., the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) scrambled two F-15s out of Portland to intercept it.

"It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie", King told the Times.

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