Stolen Plane Flies From Seattle, Crashes After Jets Scramble To Intercept

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Kelly says someone on the ground or in the air traffic control tower should've noticed a plane was being moved when it shouldn't have been, but it took several minutes for that to happen, allowing the 29-year-old worker to take the plane into the air.

The aircraft took off and began manoeuvering over Puget Sound. Just a broken guy. He mentioned "having a few screws loose" and demonstrated signs of suicidal ideation.

Beck marvelled at the amateur piloting. "Can this thing do a black flip thing?". The plane was "highly fragmented and the wings are off", she said.

"He was a nice guy", Kaelin said.

"There is the runway just off to your right side in about a mile", the controller told him.

It was unclear where he got the skills to perform such manoeuvres, authorities said.

"It may seem hard for those watching at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm, compassionate man", the statement said.

Officials said yesterday that to their knowledge, he wasn't a licensed pilot.

Alaska Airlines on Twitter said the airplane was a Q400 airplane belonging to Horizon Air.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Alaska Airlines were headed to Ketron Island on Saturday morning to gather evidence from the site where a Horizon employee crashed a stolen airplane.

A USA official briefed on the matter told The Associated Press the man was Richard Russell. "We will provide more details when appropriate".

Fire crews and boats are responding to the scene.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) planned to send a team to Ketron Island on Saturday to retrieve the aircraft's flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, said Debra Eckrote, Western Pacific regional chief for the NTSB's Office of Aviation Safety. "Witnesses said a. plane is going down".

"Oh, Richard", said the controller, "We're not going to worry or think about that. We are sending resources and people".

Within minutes of the plane's takeoff, the military scrambled two armed F-15 jets from OR to follow it, according to local and airline authorities and two sources with knowledge of the situation.

The incident shut down Sea-Tac Airport but flights are returning to normal.

Released radio conversation between the man and air traffic controllers goes on for more than a half hour.

Later on the pilot says: "I've got a lot of people that care about me". They should've gone over and said "Hey, ' if nothing else, 'Can I help you?" I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. "Never really knew it, until now", Richard Russell said at one point.

A nearby military base dispatched two F-15 fighter jets, who diverted the aircraft away from residents, before it crashed into a nearby island. "Regular ramp agents wouldn't know", said Halbert.

He then saw the two jets come back around toward him, but not the plane.

One colleague said, "People did not see him as a threat".

"It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie", he said. The F-15s were scrambled from Portland and were not involved in the crash.

This is a developing story.