Late last night, a mechanic working at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, decided to literally steal a passenger plane. At 8pm local time, the man, identified as a 29-year old local resident, entered the twin engine turboprop Q400 Alaskan Airlines aircraft and took off without consent. Authorities say that he was suicidal, and luckily no one else was on board.
Soon after takeoff, the US military scrambled two F-15 fighter jets to track the plane, as authorities were unclear whether this was a terroristic threat or just a disturbed individual.
Video recordings from around the area show the plane flying incredibly low, and at times doing tricks, which clearly are not common for such a large aircraft.
After approximately 90 minutes the plane and its pilot crashed near the sparsely populated Ketron Island, located in the state of Washington. Flames quickly erupted in the dense forests.
During the ordeal, the control center was able to make contact with the thief, identifying himself as ‘Rich’. According to authorities, ‘Rich’ was somewhat apologetic, but also confused and excitable. Below is a transcript of a part of a conversation that those in the control center had with ‘Rich’.
Control: ”Congratulations, you did it ‘Rich’. Let’s turn around the air and land it and not hurt anybody on the ground.”
Rich: “I don’t know, man. I don’t want to. I was kind of hoping that was going to be it, you know. I’m down to 2,100 (pounds) [fuel]. I don’t know what the burnage is like on takeoff, but it burned quite a bit faster than I expected. This is probably jail time for life, huh? I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it, until now.”
Below are a couple of videos of the plane, taken by worried residents on the ground: