Aircraft crashes after 'stolen' plane takes off from Seattle Tacoma International Airport

Aircraft crashes after 'stolen' plane takes off from Seattle Tacoma International Airport

Aircraft crashes after 'stolen' plane takes off from Seattle Tacoma International Airport

A U.S. airline employee who stole an empty plane from an airport and crashed it into nearby island has been described by police as "suicidal".

Two fighter jets were trying to redirect the stolen Horizon Air turboprop over the Pacific Ocean on Friday night when it crashed on an island off Steilacoom in Pierce County, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said in a news release Saturday morning.

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. There were no passengers aboard.

"I've got a lot of people that care about me, and it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this", the man says.

Two military F-15s were scrambled to chase the stolen plane, but officials said the jets were not involved in the crash.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor described the incident as a "joyride gone terribly wrong", adding that the pilot "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life".

An airline employee who stole a Horizon Air passenger plane from a Seattle airport told air traffic controllers that he was a "broken guy" but also joked about whether the airline would hire him as a pilot if he landed safely.

"This is probably jail time for life, huh?" said Rich.

A Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, reported to be hijacked, flies upside down over University Place, Washington, the US, before crashing in the South Puget Sound, August 10, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.

The Bombardier Q400 is a turboprop airplane made for shorter flights, according to Alaska Airlines.

The man was believed to be employed as a ground service agent for Horizon.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the fighter pilots for keeping residents safe. "Didn't really know it until now", the man said, according to audio from air traffic controllers. I don't want to. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them.

"They don't have any of that stuff", the air-traffic controller assures him.

"Oh man", Rich says, "Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there". Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. I don't know man!

Witnesses in the area posted videos to social media showing the 76-passenger plane, meant for short flights, doing risky ariel maneuvers while F-15 fighter jets scrambled behind it. Military jets were scrambled from Portland, but it does not appear that these jets were involved in the crash of the Horizon aircraft. "The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low".

Fire crews were working on putting out the fire from the crash on Ketron Island in Puget Sound.

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