Authorities investigate how airline employee could steal a plane

Alaska Airlines has confirmed an'unauthorised take-off in Seattle

'An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound.

The incident led to a dramatic and tragic night on August 10, 2018, as aircraft were grounded at Sea-Tac while fighter jets followed the man, although NORAD says they didn't shoot the plane down.

Local media described the man who stole the plane as a mechanic.

It is reported that the aircraft crashed near Ketron Island outside Seattle.

Mike Ehl, director of aviation operations at the airport, said the man "had access legitimately" to the plane and that "no security violations were committed".

Within minutes, F-15 fighter jets were scrambled from Portland, Ore., to direct the plane away from inhabited areas.

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He crashed almost an hour after the plane was taken from a maintenance area, though officials said that it did not appear that the fighter jets were involved in the crash of the aircraft.

Constance von Muehlen, the chief operating officer of Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, posted a video statement on the incident late Friday, saying that the airline believes the plane "was taken by a single Horizon Air employee, and that no other passengers or crew were on board". They pursued the aircraft before it went down on Ketron Island, between Tacoma and Olympia. They should've gone over and said "Hey, ' if nothing else, 'Can I help you?" "I would hope it is for a guy like me".

Tilden declined to name the employee, but said he was hired by Horizon Air in February 2015. It can carry 76 passengers and has boarding doors in both the front and rear of the plane.

The plane was chased by military aircraft, witnesses said.

The man also said he had no flying experience - but had "played some video games before".

Later the man said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me". At one point he seems to be threatening harm, telling an air traffic controller that "people's lives are at stake here". "Never really knew it, until now", Rich Russell said.

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The pilot, identified as "Rich", comes across as excitable, confused, and even apologetic in a conversation with the control tower.

Ehl said arrivals were allowed to continue to clear the airspace, but nine flights were diverted to other airports. "I don't know what the burnage is like on takeoff, but it burned quite a bit faster than I expected". "If you could, you just want to keep that plane right over the water".

"If this guy had evil intent, I'm not sure there's any way the F-15s could have stopped him from flying into Safeco Field", Curtis said. The jets were armed but did not open fire, North American Aerospace Defense Command spokesman Cameron Hillier said by phone.

"We are going to be thorough, which means taking the time needed to scour the area, delve into the background of the individual believed responsible, and review every aspect of this incident with all appropriate public & private partners", the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement.

Mr Russell, a ground service employee with Horizon Air, has not been officially named by authorities but his family have revealed his identity.

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