Airport Employee Steals Plane And Does Stunts As F-15 Fighter Jets Scrambled (Audio/Video)
A scary situation occurred on Friday night when a plane was stolen from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The airplane was stolen by an airline employee who performed stunts with the plane. F-15 fighter jets were scrambled and chased the plane before the stolen Sea-Tac aircraft crashed.
A mechanic at the airport stole a Horizon Air plane, which is a division of Alaskan Air. The Q400 is a twin-engined propeller plane made by Bombardier and looks like this.
The pilot of the stolen plane, who was a 29-year-old ground service agent, was doing stunts in the air including barrel rolls. “Our information now is there was only one person on the plane. I understand the person may have been doing some air stunts or whatever,” said Paul Pastor, Pierce County Sheriff.
Air traffic controllers attempted to persuade the pilot to land the stolen plane. The man identified as “Rich” in the transmission told air traffic controllers that he wasn’t ready to land as you can hear in this Twitter thread.
“There is the runway just off to your right side in about a mile,” the air traffic controller informed Rich. “That’s McChord” (military airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord).
“Oh man, those guys will rough me up if I try and land there,” Rich replied. “I think I might mess something up there too. I wouldn’t want to do that. They probably have anti-aircraft.”
“They don’t have any of that stuff,” the air-traffic controller said. “We’re just trying to find a place for you to land safely.”
“I’m not quite ready to bring it down just yet,” Rich said. “But holy smokes, I got to stop looking at the fuel, because it’s going down quick.”
“Could you start a left turn and we’ll take you down to the SE, please,” the controller asked.
“This is probably jail time for life, huh?” said Rich. “I would hope it is for a guy like me.”
“Oh, Richard,” said the controller, “We’re not going to worry or think about that. But could you start a left turn please?”
“I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this,” Rich said. “I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it, until now.”
The major security breach caused flights to be grounded and Air National Guard F-15 fighter jets from Portland International Airport were scrambled.
“It was low enough we could make out the Alaska face … so it was really low,” said witness Ken Schmidtke.
The F-15’s followed the stolen plane for 45 minutes as the stolen plane did laps around suburban areas south of Seattle Puget Sound.
The stolen aircraft crashed on Ketron Island at around 8 p.m. local time on Friday in the Puget Sound waterway about 25 miles southwest of the airport. Smoke billowed from the fiery crash site.
The pilot is believed to be the only fatality from the crash. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said it was “not a terrorist incident,” the pilot was not “trying to damage anything,” but rather a “joyride gone terribly wrong.” Law enforcement is calling it a “suicide, single male.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that President Donald Trump was monitoring the situation. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will conduct an investigation into the incident.
“FBI is communicating w/local/state/federal partners, but it’s too early for us to put out details on the evolving situation. We frequently get involved w/aircraft-related matters, so we’re poised to act if info develops to suggest a federal criminal nexus,” the FBI said.
An Alaska Airlines spokesperson said the plane was in the maintenance area of the airport when it was taken and was not scheduled for any flights. Alaska Air issued a statement.
Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen gave the following message: