Suicidal man steals plane, crashes after F15 chase
A 29-year-old suicidal man stole stolen an Air Q400 plane from Seattle's international airport for a short, dramatic flight before crashing on a nearby island.
The local Pierce County Sheriff's office has confirmed via Twitter that the man - believed to be an employee of Horizon Airlines - was acting alone when he made the unauthorised flight and was chased by F15 fighter planes.
Caught on video, the chase ended when the 76-seater aircraft crashed on Ketron island nera Seattle.
The stolen aircraft belonged to from Alaska Airlines sister carrier Horizon.
One reports said the man joked with traffic controllers during the short flight as F15s chased him that he was going to jail.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter the crash may have been caused by the mechanic "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills."
We've confirmed a Horizon Air Q400 that had an unauthorized takeoff from SeaTac around 8pm has gone down near Ketron Island in Pierce County, WA. We're working to confirm who was on board, we believe there were no guests or crew on board other than the person operating the plane.— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) August 11, 2018
Alaska Airlines confirmed the crash tweeted, "We've confirmed a Horizon Air Q400 that had an unauthorized takeoff from SeaTac around 8pm has gone down near Ketron Island in Pierce County, WA.
"We're working to confirm who was on board, we believe there were no guests or crew on board other than the person operating the plane."
After the stolen Air Q400 took off without authorisation from Seattle's SeaTac airportit went into lock down with all flights halted.
ATC Audio from the stolen Horizon Air Q400: “I think I am going to try to do a barrel roll and if that goes good then I am going to go nose down and call it a night.” pic.twitter.com/83kpL44rw9— Benjamin Bearup (@TheAviationBeat) August 11, 2018
Airways Amagazine Aviation Beat correspondent Benjamin Bearup tweeted alleged air traffic control audio of the rogue pilot talking with traffic controllers.
Apparently someone stole a plane from SeaTac? Saw two fighter jets fly overhead then smoke pic.twitter.com/w0bveGUJQH— McKenna Brown (@mckenna_brown) August 11, 2018
In the audio a man can be heard saying, "I think I am going to try to do a barrel roll and if that goes good then I am going to go nose down and call it a night."
One man wrote on Twitter, "Some dude stole a plane from #Seatac (Allegedly), did a loop-the-loop, ALMOST crashed into #ChambersBay, then crossed in front of our party, chased by fighter jets and subsequently crashed. Weird times."
#BREAKING Alaska Airlines says it is aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. This video was taken by a woman who lives south of the airport. She says this is the plane. (Courtney Jensen Junka) pic.twitter.com/Zh3E4aGfSk— Fox26 News (@KMPHFOX26) August 11, 2018
Morgan Chesky, a reporter for KOMO News, wrote, "Per JBLM source: After being contacted by F-15's, stolen plane began to nose dive, crashing in north Pierce County."
Horizon has approximately 4000 employees and serves more than 45 cities in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Canada.
Local radio reports are saying firefighting helicopters have been dispatched to Ketron Island where a small fire is currently burning after the stolen Q400 crashed on the south end.