Airline employee steals plane in Seattle, crashes it

The Q400 was stolen by a lone suicidal male who took it to do stunts and crashed on Kreton Island not long after. Reuters

High drama unfolded on early Saturday morning when reports of an unidentified person stealing an entire airplane from the Seattle-Tacoma international airport hit the internet.

The plane, an Alaska Airlines Bombardier Dash 8, better known as a Q400, was stolen by an unidentified employee of an unknown airline, who used it to perform stunts over the water before crashing it in Ketron island.

Officials in Pierce County, where the plane crashed reportedly said that the 29-year-old who acted alone was thought to be possibly suicidal. 

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport also issued a statement following the incident.

The airline tweeted that it was aware of the situation of the theft, adding that the plane was not carrying any passengers.

 

The plane was chased by two F-15s before crashing on the island. The Pierce County Sheriff said the pilot was a lone 29-year-old suicidal male who was doing stunts and confirmed it was not a terrorist act.

An eyewitness of the incident, Ben Schaechter, shared his experience on Twitter after the plane he was on was stopped due to the theft and the passengers were forced to disembark.

The first images of the plane and the crash to hit the internet were reportedly shared using screenshots of the Instagram story of a user named "vadimvarkentin," who was near the crash site.

A recorded conversation between the pilot of the stolen aircraft and the ATC of the airport was uploaded on Broadcastify. In the recording, the pilot is heard apologising for his actions, asking the ATC about the weather, mentioning turbulence over the Olympic mountains despite there being no clouds.

The ATC is heard asking the man, who they address as Rich, to land on the land or even in the water, and repeatedly try to talk him out of a barrel roll.

However, Rich goes through with it, at which point, Captain Bill congratulates him on the feat and asks him to land the airplane and 'try that no one gets hurt', but Rich refuses to do so, saying "I don't want to".

In an official statement, Alaskan Airlines has confirmed that the pilot of the stolen Q400 died in the crash. In a blog post, the CEOs of both Alaskan Airlines and Horizon Air, to which the man belonged, expressed their sadness at the events that unfolded and said that the pilot's identity cannot be confirmed until his remains are examined.

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