Family, friends recall man who crashed stolen plane as hard-working, kind

Richard Russell 29 Suicidal Man who stole plane from Seattle Airport

The "suicidal" man who commandeered and crashed a plane without passengers from a U.S. airport in Washington state seemed excited, confused, and at times calm while talking with the air traffic control tower.

"There is the runway just off to your right side in about a mile", the controller told him.

The man sounds calm at times and jokes with operators on the ground, who try to direct him to places to land. "Pilots kept plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe", the sheriff said on Twitter.

"Got a few screws loose, I guess", Russell is heard saying in the recording.

Witnesses described seeing the aircraft performing barrel rolls and loop-the-loops as the military planes directed it away from highly-populated areas and towards Ketron Island.

Police in a Seattle-area county in Washington said there was no terrorism link after a man stole a plane with no passengers and flew it into the Puget Sound on Friday night following a chase by military jets.

The two F-15s were scrambled and in the air within minutes of the theft, flying at supersonic speeds from their Portland Air Force base to intercept the aircraft, said the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which oversees airspace protection in North America.

The incident shut down Sea-Tac Airport but flights are returning to normal.

Sea-Tac officials said the airline employee had "conducted an unauthorised takeoff without passengers".

"Last night's event is going to push us to learn what we can from this tragedy so that we can ensure this does not happen again at Alaska Air Group or at any other airline".

Officials with Alaska Airlines confirmed the plane as a Bombardier Q400 that belongs to Horizon Air.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life".

The family statement said they would not release any further statement.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said this morning that President Donald Trump is "monitoring the situation".

He had no goal to be at that plane Friday evening "other than. what he did do", Tilden said.

Within minutes of the plane's takeoff, the military scrambled two armed F-15 jets from OR to follow it, according to local and airline authorities and two sources with knowledge of the situation.

The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known but authorities said the F-15s did not bring the plane down.

"I had 30 to 40 folks involved overnight, out interviewing co-workers and family members, and I just want everybody to understand that this is going to take a little bit of time", Tabb said.

Okay this insane. A pilot on the plane in front of us just went rogue and took off on an empty plane bypassing orders from the tower.

Rich's job as an airport grounds service agent provided him and Hannah with the opportunity to travel the globe, enjoying adventures everywhere from Alaska to Mexico to France.

"I don't know man", Rich said. Russell appeared to be trying tricks in the air when the plane suddenly plunged to the ground.

Toward midnight on Friday, the investigation was handed off to the FBI, which was working with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies, the Seattle Times reported.

The plane was seen by a number of witnesses doing stunts before crashing. The jets' capability was appropriate to the potential task, one of the sources said, without offering details.

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