U.S. airline worker steals plane, takes it for flight before crashing it

A Horizon Q400

The 29-year-old man used a machine called a pushback tractor to first maneuver the aircraft so he could board and then take off Friday evening, authorities added. "Acted alone he is 29-year-old Pierce county residence [sic]", the department tweeted.

The plane crashed on Ketron Island, a small island in the Puget Sound that is home to about two dozen residents.

Sheriff Paul A. Pastor said at the press conference that there was no sign that it was a terrorist attack. The man sounds calm at times and jokes with operators on the ground, who try to direct him to places to land.

An audio emerged online of a conversation between a man who hijacked a plane from the Seattle Airport and an air-traffic controller.

At one point, Richard apologizes to those he loves for his actions. "Never knew it until now".

Beck marvelled at the amateur piloting. "Can this thing do a black flip thing?".

Ground control advises him to wait.

The stolen plane was parked in an area called Cargo 1 on the north part of Sea-Tac when it was taken.

Joseph Duran of Steilacoom was watching a James Bond movie with his family when they heard the roar of the jets over their home. He didn't hear the crash, but saw smoke.

"They don't have any of that stuff", the air-traffic controller said. He expected "a whole slew of engines that will be coming through at the ferry terminal in a few minutes". The jets' capability was appropriate to the potential task, one of the sources said, without offering details. Horizon Air is a division of Alaskan that flies shorter routes in the western US.

"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", the United States airline tweeted.

"We are going to be thorough, which means taking the time needed to scour the area, delve into the background of the individual believed responsible, and review every aspect of this incident with all appropriate public & private partners", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

Dave Leval contributed information to this story.

Fire crews and boats are responding to the scene.

"Oh, Richard", said the controller, "We're not going to worry or think about that". We're trying to contact the military.

Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling jets and said in a statement "there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident".

All flights were grounded at Seattle-Tacoma global airport in the USA when a passenger plane took off without permission.

There was no connection to terrorism and no others were involved, said Troyer.

He said: "I hope this doesn't ruin your day". "I would like to apologise to each and every one of them", he said. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess.

He then said: "I wouldn't know how to land - I wasn't really planning on landing it".

The plane was pursued by military aircraft before it crashed on tiny Ketron Island, southwest of Tacoma, Washington. He knew something was off, he said. "We saw the jets circle back after and she texted that there was no plane".

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