A 29-year-old amateur pilot and mechanic stole a plane and took off from Seattle's Sea-Tac International Airport on Friday evening, going on what appeared to be a suicidal joyride before slamming the aircraft into Ketron Island and setting off a large forest fire.
Video showed the aircraft doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers as the sun was setting.
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. pic.twitter.com/Ra4LcIhwfU
— bmbdgty (@drbmbdgty) August 11, 2018
The aircraft, a Q400, is described as a 76-seat aircraft designed for short trips. No passengers were onboard.
USA Today reports:
Only minutes after the plane made its bizarre, unauthorized takeoff around 8 p.m., the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) scrambled two F-15s out of Portland to intercept it. 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.
During the ordeal, the self-proclaimed pilot could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is “just a broken guy.”
An air traffic controller called the man “Rich,” and tried to convince him to land the airplane.
“There is a runway just off to your right side in about a mile,” the controller says, referring to an airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“Oh man. Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there,” the man responded, later adding “This is probably jail time for life, huh?”
Later the man said: “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this ... just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess.”
The U.S. Coast Guard sent a 45-foot vessel to the crash scene after witnesses reported seeing a large plume of smoke in the air, Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said. Video showed fiery flames amidst trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry.
The pilot also joked that if he was able to land the plane safely, maybe the airline would hire him as a pilot.
Audio was captured of conversations between the pilot and air traffic control.
Clearly, he was a disturbed individual.
Sea-Tac tweeted out, "An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed."
An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed.
— Sea-Tac Airport (@SeaTacAirport) August 11, 2018
The Pierce County Sheriff's Office added, "Male is confirmed a suicidal male. Acted alone he is 29 year old Pierce county residence. We are working back ground on him now.
Male is confirmed a suicidal male. Acted alone he is 29 year old Pierce county residence . We are working back ground on him now.
— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) August 11, 2018
NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) issued a statement about the role of the military jets.
FAA reported stolen a/c from Sea-Tac airport and requested DoD assistance. NORAD launched 2x F-15 who intercepted the a/c and were working to redirect the aircraft out over the Pacific when it crashed. The fighters did not fire upon the a/c. Event pass to local rescue and law enf pic.twitter.com/f9wQ6ew80L
— NORAD & USNORTHCOM (@Norad_Northcom) August 11, 2018
Of course, the FBI and others were on top of things, if that makes anyone feel any safer.
The FBI continues to work with our state, local, and federal partners to gather a complete picture of what transpired with tonight's unauthorized Horizon aircraft takeoff and crash. We don't anticipate that further details will be available tonight.
— FBI Seattle (@FBISeattle) August 11, 2018
The crash injured no one on the island.
The obvious question going through everyone's mind here should be, how did this man get into the air in the first place? I'll bet some genius at Homeland Security thinks TSA will now need to guard the aircraft, given that they've done such a fine job violating Americans' rights on a daily basis while many engage in other criminal activity against travelers.
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