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AUDIO: Airport Employee's Conversation With Air Traffic Controllers After Stealing Plane Released

AUDIO: Airport Employee's Conversation With Air Traffic Controllers After Stealing Plane Released

During the doomed flight he spoke to air traffic control who pleaded with Russell to land. "He was right in saying that there are so many people who loved him".

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.

"Here we have an employee who was vetted to the level to have access to the aircraft and had a skillset proficient enough to take off with that plane", Southers, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, said.

Video showed the Horizon Air Q400, a turboprop plane that seats 76 people, doing large loops and other risky manoeuvres as the sun set on Puget Sound.

Fighter jets were scrambled after Russell, 29, stole a 76-seat Horizon Air plane at about 7.32pm local time on Friday. Among other things, investigators will be looking into how Russell, who reportedly did not have a pilot's license, had not only managed to gain access to the plane without being noticed, but was able to take off in the Q400 turboprop and to execute a series of sophisticated maneuvers, once he was airborne.

Price said you could risk pulling back too far on the stick, and the aircraft could stall.

Gregoire said she did not have any particular policies or procedures in mind that would need changing. He shouldn't have been able to board the plane alone and go unnoticed.

Russell worked for Horizon Airlines, a sister carrier of Alaska Airlines, as a ground service agent who helped baggage handlers and was part of Horizon's tow team, which moved planes around on the tarmac.

Authorities said he used a tractor to rotate the plane 180 degrees, positioning it so that he could taxi toward a runway.

There were no other injuries and the F-15s did not shoot down the plane, according to officials.

"Most of them fly like a real aircraft would fly", Price said.

More news: Mismanagement More Harmful Than US Sanctions

Russell joked to air traffic controllers that he could do fly the plane because he had played so many video games. Relatives and co-workers identified the man as Mr Richard Russell.

Later the man said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me". "I would like to apologize to each and every one of them". Got a few screws loose.

Then the wayward Horizon Airlines ground service agent added, "I never really knew it". The worker became emotional as he described listening to Russell's voice on the recording because, he said, it was the last memory he would have. It did not elaborate.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life". "I hope they can make it through this". "There's going to be a lot of discussion, a lot of meetings, a lot of finger-pointing, and it's going to come down to: How do we stop it?" "If you crash in the simulator, then you can reset it and start again".

In recordings of air-traffic control radio, Russell appeared to tell controllers that he was surprised by how much fuel he'd burned through.

Coaches at Wasilla High School, where Richard Russell was a football player, wrestler and discus thrower, told the Anchorage Daily News they are shocked at the news.

Russell repeatedly says he would do a roll. Russell is presumed dead.

"Congratulations. You did that".

Russell responds: "Awwww-right. Ah, dammit". I don't know! I don't want to.

Commenting on the discovery of the wreckage, Debra Eckrote of the National Transportation Safety Board said: "You couldn't even tell it was a plane except for some of the bigger sections, like the wing section".

The plane was a Q400, a Bombardier turboprop plane, one of about 40 the airline has in its fleet. He flew it for an hour, followed by two armed F-15 jets from OR that the military scrambled, before he crashed. They pursued the aircraft before it went down on Ketron Island, between Tacoma and Olympia. The jets were armed but did not open fire, said a US Aerospace Defence Command spokesman.


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