Federal authorities today were seeking to learn what drove an airline worker to steal an empty airplane from Seattle's airport in a security scare that caused the scrambling of USA fighter jets and ended when the plane crashed onto a sparsely populated island.
They intercepted the plane near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Earlier in the flight, the man says: "This is probably, like, jail time for life, huh?" It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this ...
The recordings were of radio communication between Russell and air traffic controllers.
The man who was flying the plane, identified as a 29-year-old Horizon employee, was presumed killed in the crash on sparsely populated Ketron Island.
Two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled as "Rich" flew the passenger plane in an aerial loop, then headed south.
"The person who stole it was either doing it on a lark, or was suicidal", Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said on Friday.
Mike Mathews, a friend of Russell, said at a press conference the incident came as a "complete shock".
A passenger plane from Alaska Airlines was stolen from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday at around 8 PM.
Alaska Airlines on Twitter said the airplane was a Q400 airplane belonging to Horizon Air.
Naturally, the errant plane disrupted air traffic control - but it also scared observers who had no idea what the aircraft was doing.
The Pierce County sheriff said that the perpetrator acted alone and "was confirmed a suicidal male".
He estimated that the plane at its lowest point was no more than 100 feet (30.5 meters) above the water. "I would like to apologize to each and everyone one of them", said Russell.
Authorities say the man went through various background checks to get clearance to be in the secured area. That's why the F-15s got scrambled to deal with this issue, and it seems highly likely that they would have fired on the plane if it made any aggressive moves towards airports or cities.
He then said: "I wouldn't know how to land - I wasn't really planning on landing it".
As heard in the recording, an air traffic control staffer works with the man to find a place to land. "Last night's event is going to push us to learn what we can from this tragedy so that we can ensure this does not happen again at Alaska Air Group or at any other airline".
Investigators on Saturday will try to retrieve the plane's flight data recorder and its cockpit voice recorder.
Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft before it crashed.
"I lift a lot of bags".
"The responding fighter pilots flew alongside the aircraft and were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us, but in the end the man flying the stolen plane crashed", Inslee said.
Smoke and an orange glow seen on Ketron Island in Washington state.
On Saturday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told media that President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident and is now "monitoring the situation" in Seattle. He documented his feelings working at the job on his social media and said he liked to travel and was hoping to one day work in a management position at the company.
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