Seattle plane crash: Family of man who crashed stolen plane issue statement

The airport worker crashed the plane one hour after taking off

Russell's family said in a statement that they were stunned and heartbroken.

Port of Seattle Commissioner Courtney Gregoire called the theft from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport "truly a one-in-a-million experience", but added, "That doesn't mean we can't learn from it".

The Seattle Times quoted Rick Christenson, an operational supervisor with the airline who retired in May, as saying Russell was a well-liked, quiet person.

Alaska Airlines says Richard Russell was a ground service agent employed by Horizon.

Authorities have recovered human remains as well as a flight-data recorder among the wreckage of a stolen airplane on Ketron Island.

Richard Russell, a ground service agent for Horizon Air at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, took the plane Friday.

The family of an airport ground service agent who stole a passenger plane in the United States, performed some unbelievable stunts and then crashed it, taking his own life, are stunned and heartbroken. He shouldn't have been able to board the plane alone and go unnoticed.

Alaska Airlines chief executive Brad Tilden said the airline was giving authorities its full support and cooperation in working to find out what happened.

She said airport officials have been in touch with other airports and airlines to begin to assess procedures.

The Q400 was parked in a maintenance and cargo area and not scheduled for passenger service when the employee used a tow tractor to turn the plane 180 degrees and taxi out to a runway, Alaska officials said.

Some skills could have been acquired form his job while watching others, while flight simulator software may have helped him familiarise himself with how the plane works. He was in uniform, had proper credentials and had clearance to be in secure aircraft areas, said Tilden, the airline CEO.

As he flew the stolen 76-seat passenger plane, Mr Russell was asked by an air traffic controller whether he was comfortable flying the plane around. Later he said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me. They're not as easy to fly as, say, a Cessna 150, so I don't know how he achieved [what] he did". At one point, Russell says he is a "broken guy" with "a few screws loose". "Never really knew it till now".

Russell's family issued a statement shortly after he died
FACEBOOK HEARTBROKEN Russell's family issued a statement shortly after he died

Authorities describe Russell as being suicidal. It did not elaborate.

"The reality is that airports are huge, messy places with a hell of a lot of people coming in and out", he said. "There's going to be a lot of discussion, a lot of meetings, a lot of finger-pointing, and it's going to come down to: How do we stop it?" "I don't know", Kaelin said.

Russell repeatedly says he would do a roll.

The plane crash has left Russell's family devastated.

"Congratulations. You did that". "It was kind of awesome that he was able to get the airplane off the ground".

Russell responds: "Awwww-right. Ah, dammit. But holy smokes, I've got to stop looking at the fuel, because it's going down quick". He flew for about an hour, often erratically with attempts at aerial stunts, before crashing on Ketron Island in Puget Sound, about 25 miles (40 km) to the southwest. The jets were armed but did not open fire, said a US Aerospace Defence Command spokesman.

F-15 "pilots kept plane out of harms way and people on ground safe", the sheriff's office tweeted.

Military jets followed the plane as it was in the air.

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

Aside from the mystery of what motivated the worker to commit such an act, the incident raises a disturbing question for the flying public: How could someone simply hop into a plane and take off unnoticed at one of the busiest airports in the country? An air traffic controller called the man "Rich", and tried to convince the man to land the airplane.

"So, (he) had some knowledge but clearly wasn't a commercial pilot".

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