— Kyle Andrew Brown (@kylemillennial) August 11, 2018
In the early hours of August 11th, a Q400 Horizon Air airplane was hijacked by a mechanic from Seattle’s SeaTac Airport.
SeaTec officials, cited by the Sun Times, said that the airline employee had “conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers.”
Officials, cited by the Metro, also said that the hijacking of the plane is not related to terrorism.
The mechanic, who media describe as “suicidal” stole a Horizon Air turboprop plane, took off from SeaTac. He was chased by military fighter jets before crashing into a small island in the Puget Sound on the night of August 10th, early hours of August 11th.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department’s in a Twitter post provided preliminary information suggesting that the 29-year-old mechanic “was doing stunts or lack of flying skills” which caused the crash.
A video showed the Q400 Horizon Air doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers. Luckily, there were no passengers on board.
According to the Metro, the man, identified only as Rich, was heard describing himself as “a broken man” to air traffic controllers. He also asked for the coordinates of grieving orca so that he could go and see it. Jimmy Thomson, a Canadian Journalist, listened to the archive of the radio chatter and reported bizarre dialogue. Rich said things such as “I wasn’t planning on landing it” and “I hope this doesn’t ruin your day” to air traffic controllers who were attempting to persuade him to land the aircraft.
Referring to an airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord the controller suggested landing there. “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?” Later on, the man exclaimed: “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this…Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess.”
When he was asked if he needed help, Rich responded: “Nah, I mean, I don’t need that much help; I’ve played some video games before. I would like to figure out how to get this… make it pressurised or something so I’m not so lightheaded.”
During the incident flights out of SeaTac were temporarily grounded.
After the crash, witnesses reported seeing a US Coast Guard send a 45-foot (14-meter) vessel to the crash scene. Witnesses also report seeing a large plume of smoke in the air, according to Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi, cited by NBC.
Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen said in a video posted the following on Twitter: “Our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard, along with all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees.”
Spokesmen for the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration directed inquiries to local authorities.
Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West. The Q400 ix a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.