Viral

Watch: Suicidal employee steals plane, does a barrel roll before crashing

Witnesses reported seeing a large plume of smoke in the air above Ketron Island after the plane went down. No passengers were believed to be aboard the Q400 aircraft, airport officials said.

A Horizon Air passenger plane crashed on an island in Puget Sound Friday night, not long after a suspect conducted an “unauthorised take-off” from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state, officials said.

Witnesses reported seeing a large plume of smoke in the air above Ketron Island after the plane went down. No passengers were believed to be aboard the Q400 aircraft, airport officials said.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said, the man who piloted the Alaska Airlines plane was a 29-year-old “suicidal male” who lived in Pierce County. The man’s move forced Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to close.

“An airline employee conducted an unauthorised takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed,” Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tweeted.

The plane, a 76-seater Q400 turboprop aircraft, belonged to Alaska Airlines. The accused crashed the plane after he was pursued by two F15 fighter jets. The man is not believed to have survived.

“We’ve confirmed a Horizon Air Q400 that had an unauthorised takeoff from SeaTac around 8pm has gone down near Ketron Island in Pierce County, WA,” the US airline tweeted.

The sheriff’s department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the man, whose name was not immediately released. The man could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is “just a broken guy”, news agency Press Trust of India reported, quoting foreign media.

“Most terrorists don”t do loops over the water,” Sheriff Paul Pastor said. “This might have been a joyride gone terribly wrong.”

A recording being shared online reveals air traffic controllers tried to encourage the man to land before the plane crashed in the south of Ketron Island, near a military facility.

In the audio recording, the man can be heard starting to worry about how much fuel he had on board. He also suggests he could land the aircraft by himself because he had played “some video games”.

The man, who is referred to by what is believed to be his first name, also discusses:

  • The co-ordinates for the orca carrying her dead calf on her back
  • Looking at the view and possibly going to look at the Olympic Mountains, in Washington State
  • If he can do a barrel roll before landing and “calling it a day”
  • Whether or not Alaska Airlines would give him a job after a successful landing
  • It is unclear how the employee managed to take the plane.
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