Economy

Horizon Air employee had higher-level security clearance, specialized training

Horizon Air employee had higher-level security clearance, specialized training

Federal authorities today were seeking to learn what drove an airline worker to steal an empty airplane from Seattle's airport in a security scare that caused the scrambling of US fighter jets and ended when the plane crashed onto a sparsely populated island.

Local media citing sources at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) air force base said one or more F-15 fighter planes contacted the rogue aircraft and it crashed soon afterwards. It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this.

As reported by NBC, in his communications with the air traffic control tower, the man mentions "having a few screws loose" and showed signs of suicidal thoughts.

Video taken by a bystander showed the 76-seat plane making a big, slow loop-the-loop as F-15 fighter jets gave chase, then flying low over Puget Sound before crashing into Ketron Island, a sparsely-populated area in the northwestern U.S. state of Washington. Pierce County Sheriff's Department spokesman Ed Troyer described the suspect as an unnamed suicidal 29-year-old man from the county "doing stunts in the air" before the crash.

At a news conference, officials from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said that they were working with authorities.

Pierce County Sheriff said the hijacking was not a "terrorist incident".

Horizon president and CEO Gary Beck said that to the airline's knowledge the man who took the plane did not have a pilot's license.

Video showed the Horizon Air Q400, a turboprop plane that seats 76 people, doing large loops and other unsafe stunts as the sun set on Puget Sound in Washington state.

"No security violations were committed", said Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden. Ketron Island is a sparsely populated island 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the airport. "Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed", the airport wrote.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) planned to send a team to Ketron Island on Saturday to retrieve the aircraft's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, said Debra Eckrote, Western Pacific regional chief for the NTSB's Office of Aviation Safety.

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"I would hope it is for a guy like me", he said.

A stolen Horizon Air passenger plane flies above Puget Sound. "We consider ourselves bakery connoisseurs and have to try a new one every place we go".

The FBI is involved in the investigation, Troyer said.

"If that goes good, I'm going to go nose down and call it a night", Rich says. It was a very small two prop plane commuter aircraft was stolen.

A ground service agent's tasks don't involve touching planes' controls, CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo said.

"We're working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened", he said.

Royal King told The Seattle Times he was photographing a wedding when he saw the low-flying turboprop being chased by two F-15s. He said it appears that Russell died in the crash and that there were no injuries on the ground, according to the Times.

'It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie, ' he told the newspaper.

In a statement, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee praised the responding fighter pilots that flew alongside the stolen aircraft.


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