Saturday, August 11, 2018
SEATTLE, WA -- A "suicidal" airline employee stole a plane at Sea-Tac Airport Friday night, taking off without authorization before crashing in Puget Sound in Pierce County, authorities confirmed. The plane, a Horizon Air Q400, did not have any passengers or crew on board, according to Alaska Airlines and Sea-Tac officials. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said it dispatched two F-15Cs from Portland that intercepted the stolen aircraft in the vicinity of McCord Air Force Base. NORAD said the fighters were working to redirect the aircraft out over the Pacific Ocean when it crashed. The fighters did not fire on the aircraft, NORAD said. Photos posted to social media showed smoke coming from the scene of the crash. The sheriff's office said the two F-15s were not involved in the crash.
The man 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 the man 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?"
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