'Suicidal' Man Steals, Crashes Empty Plane From Seattle Airport

'Suicidal' Man Steals, Crashes Empty Plane From Seattle Airport

A two-acre fire burns early Saturday on the Puget Sound island where the plane crashed.

Alaska Airlines officials said at a Saturday news conference that the plane's operator and sole occupant was killed in the crash.

Richard Russell has been revealed to be the man who stole an Alaska Airlines jet from the Seattle-Tacoma Airport and took it for an hour-long joyride before crashing on an island in a ball of flames on Friday evening.

"Stolen horizon airplane crashed into Ketron island.

Didn't really know it until now", the man said, according to audio from air traffic controllers. He expressed both remorse for what he was doing and enthusiasm for attempting aerobatics, and at times seemed to imply that he meant to end his own life.

"Governor Jay Inslee thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling jets and said in a statement "there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident".

The man, described by police as a 29-year-old mechanic, says that he has a lot of people that care about him.

The air traffic controller and a pilot tried to convince the man to attempt to land the plane - and to not attempt the aerobatic maneuvers - but were not successful.

Two F-15 fighter jets supposedly from the 142nd Fighter Wing, Portland Air National Guard Base, Portland were "not involved in (the) crash", the Pierce County Sheriff's Office tweeted Friday.

The mechanic who stole an empty plane from an airport and flew it around before crashing it has been named as Richard Russell.

The plane was pursued by military aircraft before it crashed on tiny Ketron Island, southwest of Tacoma, Washington. Investigators were trying to retrieve the plane's flight data recorder and its cockpit voice recorder.

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According to the statement, family members said they were devasted by the events and that "Jesus is truly the only one holding this family together right now". "We believe he was in uniform", said Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden. Just a broken guy.

Horizon Air chief operating officer Constance von Muehlen issued a video statement describing the incident.

Horizon Air CEO Gary Beck said it was not clear how the man knew how to start the engine, which requires a series of switches and levers.

He used a vehicle known as a pushback tractor to move the empty 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop plane and took off without authorization at 7:32 p.m. local time Friday, officials said.

"I watched probably 18 planes land and line up across from us because they were getting everyone on the ground and out of the air patterns", said Leddy.

Late yesterday's full stop at Seattle's Sea-Tac airport turned out to have a weird and ultimately tragic reason.

"It is highly fragmented", she said of the plane.

"This is a complete shock to us", Mr Matthews said.

At another point, the joyriding pilot tells the tower that he's played lots of video games and can handle the plane well. Near the end of the video, you can also see the aftermath of the crash.

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

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