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Thread: Stolen Plane Crashes After Airline Employee Takes Off From Seattle Airport

  1. #1

    Stolen Plane Crashes After Airline Employee Takes Off From Seattle Airport

    An airline employee took off in a stolen plane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday night in an episode that frustrated stranded travelers, riveted witnesses and ended with the plane crashing about 30 miles from the airport, the authorities said.

    The man, a 29-year-old who acted alone, was thought to be suicidal, said officials in Pierce County, where the plane crashed. No one else was believed to be on the 76-seat plane or injured on the ground.

    “An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac,” the airport said in a tweet. “Aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed.”

    Alaska Airlines said in a statement that it believed that the person who took the plane was a ground service agent employed by Horizon Air, a subsidiary. The takeoff occurred around 8 p.m. and involved a turboprop, a Q400, flying for Horizon. The flight appeared to last just under an hour.

    Early Saturday morning, Horizon’s chief operating officer, Constance von Muehlen, said in a video statement that “our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard as well as all our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees.”

    The stolen plane crashed on Ketron Island, southwest of the airport, and a local television station showed a wooded area in flames that it called a debris field.

    Sheriff Paul Pastor of Pierce County told The Associated Press that the man flying the plane “did something foolish and may well have paid with his life.”

    The county sheriff’s office said in a tweet: “We know who he is. No others involved.” It added that it was not a terrorist episode, and that two F-15 fighter jets had responded within minutes of the theft.
    Sheriff Pastor told The Seattle Times that the flight was “a joy ride gone terribly wrong,” and videos recorded by onlookers on the ground show the plane diving, looping and rolling over Puget Sound at sunset.

    On Saturday morning, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that President Trump was monitoring the situation. “Federal authorities are assisting with the ongoing investigation, which is being led by local authorities,” the statement said. “We commend the interagency response effort for their swift action and protection of public safety.”

    Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State tweeted late Friday that there were still “a lot of unknowns” about the tragedy. But he thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and Oregon for quickly sending the jets.

    “The responding fighter pilots flew alongside the aircraft and were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us, but in the end the man flying the stolen plane crashed,” Mr. Inslee said.

    Air traffic controllers communicated with the pilot to try to help him land safely, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

    The Seattle airport was brought to a standstill for part of Friday evening. On one Alaska Airlines flight from Portland, Ore., passengers were stuck on the tarmac after landing and informed by the pilot that there had been an issue with another plane at the airport, and that gates were backed up with 40 planes waiting.

    Observers chronicled the plane’s course on social media and listened in to radio traffic in real time. While the plane was still aloft, the man flying it chatted with officials in a frenzied stream of consciousness, commenting on the beauty of the Olympic Mountains, the prospect of jail time and shock at his rapidly fading gas tank.

    He said he hoped to have a “moment of serenity” in the air but lamented that the sights “went by so fast.” He also talked about doing a barrel roll in the air and wondered aloud about whether the plane could do a back flip.

    “I got a lot of people that care about me and it’s gonna disappoint them to hear that I did this,” the man could be heard saying. “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.”

    At one point, an official urged him to land the plane.

    The man sputtered.

    “I don’t know man,” he said. “I don’t know. I don’t want to. I was kind of hoping that was gonna be it.”
    "I guess I just hate the fact there is public property at all." - Mr. Raceboy.

  2. #2
    Ow! My Balls! Put Master
    Mr. Raceboy's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
    Carl's Jr.
    He went out big at least. Damn.
    "Democracy is a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses." H.L. Mencken

  3. #3
    Richard Russell Stole a Plane in Seattle and Crashed It. How’d He Learn to Fly?

    As he flew the stolen 76-seat passenger plane above the Seattle area for nearly an hour on Friday night, Richard B. Russell was asked by an air traffic controller whether he was comfortable “just flying the plane around.”

    Mr. Russell, 28, a Horizon Air employee whose duties would have included handling baggage and de-icing planes but not flying them, responded, “I played video games before, so, you know, I know what I’m doing a little bit.”

    Indeed, Gary Beck, the chief executive of Horizon Air, an Alaska Air Group subsidiary, said that Mr. Russell — who died when the Q400 turboprop aircraft he was piloting crashed into an island some 30 miles from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — did not have a pilot’s license.

    “Commercial aircrafts are complex machines,” Mr. Beck said at a news conference on Saturday. “I don’t know how he achieved the experience he did.”

    Certified flight instructors and aviation experts on Sunday were divided on how much video games or flight simulators could prepare someone to operate an airplane.

    “Yes, I believe that a civilian who has a thorough experience of flight simulation could indeed start, taxi and take off an aircraft with no real world pilot experience,” Ryan Barclay, the founder and executive director of Fly Away Simulation, an online hub for “at home” flight simulation enthusiasts, said on Sunday.

    While professional simulators complete with full-motion mock cockpits offer immersive experiences, YouTube tutorials and online flight simulators from gaming platforms like Steam offer more easily available training.

    Rick Todd, president of the National Association of Flight Instructors, said on Sunday it had never occurred to him that someone who had experience only with a simulator — which he described as highly realistic, down to the switches in a cockpit — would be able to do what Mr. Russell did.

    Mr. Todd said he was also surprised to see that someone without a pilot’s license would be able to get the plane off the ground without it stalling, let alone perform the aerobatic maneuvers Mr. Russell executed on Friday.

    Videos taken by onlookers during Mr. Russell’s flight showed the plane doing deep dives, broad loops and at least one upside-down roll. Some of Mr. Russell’s actions, such as knowing to be at a certain elevation to perform certain aerial moves, suggested he may have learned them from a flight simulator, Mr. Todd said.

    “It’s highly improbable, but not impossible, that he never had a lick of flying except other than in a virtual world,” he said.

    Because of the friendly work atmosphere at airports, it wouldn’t be unusual if Mr. Russell had learned how to start an engine by watching one of the mechanics, he said.

    Flying a Q400, a complex turboprop plane, would require more training on top of the requirements for a private pilot’s license, said Richard McSpadden, the executive director of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Air Safety Institute. A pilot would also need endorsements from flight instructors for certain skills to fly a Q400.

    Mr. McSpadden said he found it highly unlikely that Mr. Russell had the skills simply from a simulation. He noted that the recording of Mr. Russell’s conversation with air traffic controllers suggested he wasn’t familiar with aviation terminology but he knew enough to attempt aerial maneuvers.

    Thomas Anthony, director of the University of Southern California Aviation Safety and Security Program, acknowledged that there were “portions of the approach and landing process” that could be taught using a simulator. Still, he was emphatic: “You cannot safely operate an aircraft based solely on a simulator.”

    He said that the broad availability of simulators — as with so many other technologies that have proliferated in recent years — is a two-way street. “It simply is another thing that needs to be addressed, and understood, and mitigated,” he said.

    Professor Anthony referred to the findings of the 9/11 Commission, which concluded that the authorities responsible for maintaining the security of American aviation had broad “failures of imagination” in the years leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks.

    An equally grave threat was the refusal to challenge certain assumptions — for instance, that a person who doesn’t have a criminal background or associations with terrorism was safe to work behind the scenes. “But, in fact, that’s not enough,” Professor Anthony said. Sophisticated simulators and private emotional turmoil can prove to be a deadly mix, he said.

    Mr. Barclay said landing was “an art form” that could not be learned from a PC-based simulator.

    “There is one major thing that separates simulators from real life,” Mr. Barclay said. “If you crash in the simulator, then you can reset it and start again.”
    "I guess I just hate the fact there is public property at all." - Mr. Raceboy.

  4. #4
    I've spent enough time on planes and flight simulators that I could probably take off and land a plane.

    The trouble is the "probably."

    Pete (could probably do it here and there, but not every time)

  5. #5
    put-put Put Master
    Jared's Avatar
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    Jul 2007
    Sitting in my corner
    I'm very curious if he was able to communicate with ground control, or if he just cranked up and got in line with everybody else.

    I feel bad for that guy, something was very wrong with him, and he wasn't able to get help, until he broke. He must have felt very alone.
    "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." –Mark Twain

  6. #6
    Database Error Put Master
    Jester's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    crap, I know this one!
    Quote Originally Posted by Jared View Post
    I'm very curious if he was able to communicate with ground control, or if he just cranked up and got in line with everybody else.

    I feel bad for that guy, something was very wrong with him, and he wasn't able to get help, until he broke. He must have felt very alone.
    There's recordings of the guy talking to ground control -- essentially them pointing out where he can land and him, in a likable upbeat and cheery way being like, "nah, I fucked up too big this time, don't wanna spend my life in jail."

    It's surprisingly depressing to listen to.
    They speak in bulletpointese leftist nutjob drivel. It doesn't matter. Nothing is as great a motivator as the chance to truly be free.
    -Mr. Raceboy


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