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12 August 2018, 08:48 | Austin Hogan
In a tweet Alaska Airlines confirmed they were aware of an incident involving an unauthorised take-off
Air traffic controllers tried to encourage the man to land before the plane crashed, a recording being shared online reveals.
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. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this", Russell said. "The situation was not their fault but I think they could have given a little more guidance or announced to the plane this is what's going on instead of leaving us all to fend for ourselves", said Leddy.
The plane crashed on Ketron Island, a small island in the Puget Sound that is home to about two dozen residents. He flew it for an hour, followed by two armed F-15 jets from OR that the military scrambled, before he crashed.
Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life".
Authorities described him as being suicidal, adding that the incident is not related to terrorism.
At a news conference, officials from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said they are working with authorities. It had described him as a airline mechanic, but Horizon Air said later that he was a ground service agent responsible for directing and de-icing aircraft. "They probably have anti-aircraft".
She said the plane was "highly fragmented" and the wings were detached from the fuselage.
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In addition to the airport itself, Horizon Air issued a statement on the crash on Saturday morning.
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.
Officials don't believe Russell had a pilot's license, and they don't know how he knew to fly the plane. No structures on the ground were damaged, Alaska Airlines said.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) planned to send a team to Ketron Island on Saturday to retrieve the aircraft's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, said Debra Eckrote, Western Pacific regional chief for the NTSB's Office of Aviation Safety.
Alaska Airlines said the suspect was a ground service agent employed by Horizon.
Its believed the pilot was killed in the crash, and authorities are still trying to figure out how someone could steal a commercial airliner and take off from a major US airport unauthorized. There were no buildings hit and no one was killed or injured on the ground. "I mean, I would hope it is, for a guy like me".
The family of an airline employee who stole a passenger plane before crashing it in Seattle has made a statement to U.S. media, describing Richard "Bebo" Russell as a "kind and gentle" man.
Experts say the crash exposed alarming gaps in airport security, and is likely to prompt a major review industry security measures.
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