Horizon Airline Mechanic Stole Commercial Airliner- Met a Fiery End

By Faye Higbee

A Horizon Airline Mechanic stole an empty commercial airliner at Sea-Tac airport in Western Washington at around 8 pm on Friday night. The 29 year old flew it for about an hour before crashing it on Ketron Island in Puget Sound about 25 miles from the airport. Authorities do not believe the incident has any nexus to terrorism. The person flying the plane did not survive the crash.

Screnshot via twitter @Kai_AHS

Two F-15 fighter jets were dispatched to intercept the plane. The person flying the plane was not a pilot and had no idea what he was doing. He made several loops as the control tower attempted to talk him down. He told them he had no plans to actually land the plane. He remained completely calm as he spoke to the Air Traffic Controller, though it appeared he was on a suicide mission.

Update: Officials have ID’d the man who stole the plane as Richard Russell.

“I just kinda want to do a couple manuevers to see what it can do before I put her down.”
“I got a lot of people that care about me. It’s gonna disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and everyone of them.”
“Everything is peachy. Just did a little circle. I think I got some gas to go check out the Olympics.”

Horizon Airlines’ parent company is Alaska Air. Horizon’s CEO Gary Beck made this statement which read in part:

“The Horizon Air Q400, which was taken from Sea-Tac International Airport, was not scheduled to fly at the time of the incident. While we have not yet confirmed the identity of the employee, we have confirmed that all crew and passengers are accounted for. Air Traffic Control was in contact with the individual during the brief flight before it crashed on Ketron Island about an hour after it left Sea-Tac. No ground structures were involved in the crash.”

“We are working closely with the authorities and our own safety teams to thoroughly understand this incident.”

Ketron Island is not heavily populated and only has around 20 residents. No buildings were hit during the crash.