Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

SeaTac stolen plane: Airline employee allegedly steals plane, takes off, then crashes

SeaTac stolen plane: Airline employee allegedly steals plane, takes off, then crashes

Federal authorities were searching on Saturday for what drove an airline worker to steal an empty airplane from Seattle's airport and crashing it into a nearby sparsely populated island, sparking a security scare that saw USA fighter jets scrambled.

The Sheriff's Department said it was "not a terrorist incident".

The unidentified 29-year-old ground service agent was pronounced dead after the crash, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said. Early reports indicate that an airport employee stole the jet, causing fighter jets to be deployed and all ground traffic was halted.

Alaska Airlines said the plane was a Horizon Air Q400, which had an "unauthorized takeoff" from Sea-Tac around 8 p.m. local time.

A plane flies past a control tower at Sea-Tac International Airport Friday evening, August 10, 2018, in SeaTac, Wash. The Horizon airplane was followed by two F15 jets which attempted to escort the stolen aircraft back to Sea-Tac.

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I want to thank the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling jets to keep Washingtonians safe.

Two military F-15s chased the plane but were not involved in the crash, according to the Pierce County (Washington) Sheriff's department.

In a statement, Alaska Airlines said they are "aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400".

Sea-Tac airport confirmed the plane was down a short time later.

An air traffic controller called the man "Rich", and tried to convince the man to land the airplane. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this", the man can be heard telling air traffic control operators. It crashed on the south of Ketron Island, near a military facility. "More information as we learn more", Alaska Airlines wrote on Twitter around 9:20 p.m. on the west coast.

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Freaky audio from the cockpit reveals how air traffic control tried to talk him into landing the plane.

"We believe it (the plane) was taken by a single Horizon Air employee and no other passengers or crew were on board", she said.

Later the man said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me". No passengers appeared to be aboard the 76-seat plane.

Video from the scene shows the plane, which had no passengers on board, fly upside down while being tracked by fighter jets.

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