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WATCH: Suicidal Alaskan Airline Employee Steals Q400 and Crashes into Island on South Puget Sound



In an apparent suicide, an Alaska Airlines employee stole a Horizon Air Q400 passenger plane from the Sea-Tac Airport in an unauthorized flight, with only himself on board.

A man who was referred to only as “Rich” by air traffic control, was a 29-year-old Horizon Air ground service agent, a position that includes de-icing planes and directing aircraft for takeoff and gate approach, according to authorities.

After stealing the plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport around 8 p.m. Friday night, “Rich” flew for right at an hour, while being followed by two F15 military jets  from the 142nd fighter squadron who scrambled out of Portland, Oregon.

A spokesperson for Alaska Airlines said the plane had been positioned in the maintenance area of the airport and had not been scheduled for passenger flight when it was stolen.

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WATCH: Stolen Q400 Aircraft performs barrel roll:


Audio recordings of the man speaking with air traffic control posted on Broadcastify as they tried to guide the man to land the plane.

Journalist Jimmy Thomson @jwsthomson tweeted a lengthy thread of the radio chatter between “Rich” and air traffic control- (In comments) “I’m listening through the archive of the radio chatter on the hijacking. Below are some of the clips:”

More clips follow in the comments in this thread by Thomson:

Dozens of flights were grounded, some for several hours. Other were rerouted. Sea-Tac Airport, the largest commercial airport in the Pacific Northwest was shut down during the incident.

Many witnesses believed they were watching an air show, describing watching the plane doing large loops and barrel rolls while being chased by F15’s as “surreal.”

Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said they were working on conducting a background investigation on the 29-year-old Pierce County resident and Saturday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that President Donald Trump is “monitoring the situation.”

After an hour, the plane crashed down in a wooded area of Ketron Island in the Puget Sound waterway about 25 miles south-west of the airport Friday evening.

KOMO News tweeted out live coverage of the incident:

County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man “did something foolish and may well have paid with his life.”

The National Transportation Safety Board will be conducting a review of the incident as well as new security concerns being raised by the crash being addressed.



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