Airline employee crashes aircraft stolen from runway
Two F-15s were scrambled within minutes of the plane taking off.
A 29-year-old airline employee stole an aircraft from the runway of a Seattle airport, leaving the about-to-board staff and customers in the terminal on Friday night.
There was nobody else on board the aircraft, which the employee crashed in an unpopulated area about 30 miles from the airport.
The airport tweeted about the incident:
An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed.
— Sea-Tac Airport (@SeaTacAirport) August 11, 2018
Additionally, local police tweeted the following:
Follow this thread for official info. This is not a terrorist incident. Confirmed info .. this is a single suicide male. We know who he is. No others involved.
— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) August 11, 2018
According to The New York Times, the employee was openly conversing over the radio to staff on the ground, saying: "I got a lot of people that care about me and it’s gonna disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess. Never really knew it until now."
It is reported that the man also commented on the beauty of the Olympic Mountains, said he had hoped to have a "moment of serenity" and asked whether the plane could do a back flip.
Later, an official encouraged him to land the plane, to which the man replied: "I don’t know, man. I don’t know. I don’t want to. I was kind of hoping that was gonna be it."
Locals on the ground captured footage of the stolen plane as it flew over the greater Seattle area:
More video of the stolen Q400 as it flew around the Seattle area. pic.twitter.com/Mzpuo4lvC2
— Strategic Sentinel (@StratSentinel) August 11, 2018