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Authorities don't believe man who stole plane had a pilot's license

Authorities don't believe man who stole plane had a pilot's license

A "suicidal" airline employee at Seattle's Sea-Tac International Airport stole an empty plane Friday night for a freakish joyride, performing unsafe air maneuvers under close pursuit by F-15 fighter jets before crashing into an island.

Video taken by a bystander showed the passenger airplane making an unlikely upside-down loop, then flying low over Puget Sound before crashing into the sparsely populated Ketron Island in the northwestern USA state of Washington. They also said he didn't have a pilot's license, and that it is unclear how he attained the skills to do loops in the aircraft before crashing about an hour after taking off.

"We believe it was taken by a single Horizon Air employee and that no other passengers or crew were onboard", Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen said in a statement.

Officials said the plane later crashed into the sea.

Harrowing audio revealed the pilot joking with the controllers who begged him to land the 76-seater plane before it nosedived and burst into a fireball 25 miles away. Southers is director of homegrown violent extremism studies at the University of Southern California.

Authorities said an airline employee had made "an unauthorised take-off" without any passengers on board. Video has surfaced appearing to show the hijacker successfully executing the maneuver, some time before his fatal crash.

The aircraft took off and began manoeuvering over Puget Sound. "We don't know how he learned to do that", he said.

Traffic arrives at Sea-Tac International Airport terminal Friday evening, August 10, 2018, in SeaTac, Wash.

President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident and is monitoring the situation, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Saturday morning. Trump is now at his New Jersey golf club, and Sanders commended the response effort for its "swift action" and public safety protection. She commended the response effort for its "swift action" and public safety protection. The identity and condition of the pilot are not known.

Troyer added they do not believe this to be "a terrorist incident". Alaska Airlines said he was an employee who helps direct aircraft to gates and de-ice planes.

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A Horizon Air worker took off Friday night in one of the airline's Q400 turboprops at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and crashed on an island in south Puget Sound while being trailed by two F-15 fighter jets, officials said.

"I feel like one of my engines has gone out", Rich told the captain as he flew the empty plane. "I hope they can make it through this".

"Every airport in the country is going to be looking" at whether current protocols need to be changed, Soucie said. "I'm a broken guy who had a few screws loose".

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life". The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said the man, who has been identified as Richard Russell, was 29 years old and "suicidal".

Gary is at Sea-Tac, I'm in Pierce County headed to where witnesses saw plane chased by F-15s, then a boom, and smoke. There were no passengers aboard.

The United States has approximately 900,000 aviation workers, according to the most recent federal data, and the screening procedures they are subjected to are "pretty rudimentary", said Mary Schiavo, the former inspector general of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Earlier in the evening, officials at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport said an Alaska Airlines plane had been stolen and later crashed. "At this time the family is moving forward with the hard task of processing our grief", the statement said.

In this Twitter video, observers consider that the aircraft might be a drone and also comment on the fact that the pilot was doing tricks with the plane.

The plane was seen by a number of witnesses doing stunts before crashing. He didn't hear the crash, but saw smoke.

No other information was immediately available.