Airline Employee Who Stole Plane From Airport Crashes And Dies
A man over in the US has died after hijacking a plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for a brief flight before crash landing it on a nearby island 40 miles away.
The 29-year-old man, who is believed to be an employee of Horizon Airlines, reportedly carried out the unauthorised flight alone. Passerby Kathleen Treichel filmed the hijacked plane as it ascended into the air.
CNN reports that the 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop plane took off without authorisation around 8pm local time and was doing 'stunts in the air' for about an hour before being chased by F15 fighter planes and eventually crash landing in the wooded area.
Sea-Tac Airport officials confirmed on Twitter that an airline employee - a ground service agent - 'conducted an unauthorised takeoff' of an airplane carrying no passengers, then 'crashed in south Puget Sound'.
Although the crash sparked a fire in the dense forest where it landed, it is thought that no one else was harmed during the incident.
And while the FBI's Seattle office is not considering it an act of terrorism, it has brought into question the issue of airport security.
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CNN safety analyst David Soucie said: "There is a protocol to not allow anyone singularly to get onboard an aircraft.
"If you're going to access the aircraft... you make sure that you check with someone else, and that someone else (will confirm) that... you have the right authority to get onto that aircraft."
Soucie added that 'every airport in the country is going to be looking' at whether current protocols need to be changed.
In audio recordings of the incident, the unnamed man can be heard speaking to air traffic controllers as they try to instruct him in landing the plane.
He says, "This is probably like jail time for life, huh? I mean, I would hope it is, for a guy like me."
The man then goes on to apologise to those who care about him, saying: "I've got a lot of people that care about me, and it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologise to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it until now."
The air flight controller responded with: "We're not going to worry or think about that. But could you start a left-hand turn, please?"
Sadly, the efforts did not save the hijacker. However, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee did thank the fighter pilots for keeping residents safe, commenting: "Those pilots are trained for moments like tonight and showed they are ready and capable."
Featured Image Credit: Kathleen Treichel / Caters