The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter that preliminary information suggested that a mechanic had stolen the aircraft.
Authorities initially said the man was a mechanic but Alaska Airlines later said he was an employee who helps direct aircraft to gates and de-ice planes. That's why the F-15s got scrambled to deal with this issue, and it seems highly likely that they would have fired on the plane if it made any aggressive moves towards airports or cities.
"To be honest with you, commercial aircraft are complex machines".
At one point, Richard apologizes to those he loves for his actions. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this", Rich said.
One witness filmed the plane doing a large loop-the-loop, which they first thought was part of an air show rehearsal.
While in the air, Russell joked for almost 20 minutes with the air traffic control agent, but admitted he had "a few screws loose" and called himself "just a broken guy". "Never really knew it, until now", he added.
"He's ground support so they have access to aircrafts", she said of the man. It did not elaborate.
"I would hope it is for a guy like me", he said. There were no other people on board, and the man piloting the plane has not been recovered. "I've played some video games before", the man responds.
An air traffic controller called the man "Rich", and tried to convince him to land the airplane. "The kid I know wouldn't do that".
He continued: "I don't want to hurt no-one". Video showed fiery flames amid trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry.
The FBI is investigating the weird incident in conjunction with the National Transportation Safety Board and local law enforcement.
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Two F-15 fighter jets took to the air from a base in Portland, Oregon, and were on the scene within minutes. Performing barrel roles and flips before a fatal crash on the Ketron Island.
"NORAD fighters did not fire upon the aircraft", North American Aerospace Defense Command said Saturday morning in a news release.
Richard then says he feels like one of the engines "is going out or something". Unlike cars, there are no keys needed for the door or to turn on the plane, he said.
"As far as taking off and navigating your way through SeaTac that's a big airport".
"Stolen horizon airplane crashed into Ketron island. The only update I have for you at this time is to confirm that the FBI is leading the investigation".
"N$3 o signs of what happened, that's for sure", Hayes said.
It wasn't immediately clear what training, if any, the man had in flying planes. He said he was from Wasilla, Alaska, and lived in Sumner, Wash., and married in 2012. "I don't know how he achieved the experience that he did", Beck said. Alaska Airlines said it was in a "maintenance position" and not scheduled for a passenger flight.
Alaska Airlines said: 'We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400. "Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed", Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tweeted.
Read out by family friend Mike Mathews, the statement said: "He was a faithful husband, loving son and a good friend".