How did suicidal ground worker take Alaska Air plane? It was easy

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The air controller tells him there is a runway just off to his right "in about a mile [1.6km]", referring to a military airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The pilot - who is addressed as "Rich" in the recordings - says he's "got a lot of people that care about me" and that he was "just a broken guy".

A Seattle airline employee stole a commercial plane Friday night, taking to the air with military aircraft not far behind, and flew for an hour before crashing on a wooded island 40 miles away.

Two f-15 fighter jets were scrambled from Portland to intercept the stolen aircraft.

"Acting alone." He had been identified by authorities as a resident of Pierce County, though his name has not been released Friday.

A "suicidal" mechanic stole an empty passenger plane from the Seattle-Tacoma airport late Friday, took it for a brief flight that included an aerial loop, then crashed it, in an incident officials said was unrelated to terrorism.

The Horizon Air Q400 plane of Alaska Airlines was taken by an employee from the airport which resulted in interruption of air traffic at the airport.

Law enforcement sources confirmed to both The Seattle Times and The New York Times that Russell, who handled baggage and towed aircraft for Horizon Air, was the pilot.

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

But Ed Troyer, who also works at the sheriff´s office, described him as "suicidal".

At one point, he apologizes and says he is a "broken guy" with "a few screws loose". They said they wanted to review video recordings, which are called tower tapes, to determine the plane's precise movements during taxing and takeoff.

"There is a protocol to not allow anyone singularly to get onboard an aircraft", CNN safety analyst David Soucie said.

"Didn't really know it until now", the man said, according to audio from air traffic controllers. "Last night's event is going to push us to learn what we can from this tragedy so that we can ensure this does not happen again at Alaska Air Group or at any other airline". "Pilots kept the plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe", the sheriff said on Twitter. It was a very small two prop plane commuter aircraft was stolen. NORAD said the fighters were attempting to direct him out over the Pacific Ocean when it went down but did not fire on the aircraft.

An investigation will also seek to determine how a ground service worker was able to access the plane's cockpit and steal it in the first place. "Well I would hope it would be for a guy like me".

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday morning that President Donald Trump is "monitoring the situation". "We don't know how he learned to do that", Gary said when asked about Richard's joyride activity. "But holy smokes, I got to stop looking at the fuel, because it's going down quick".

One colleague said, "People did not see him as a threat". The jets were not involved in the crash, it said.

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