Plane crashes after airline employee's solo 'unauthorized takeoff' from Seattle airport

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A "suicidal" airline mechanic stole an empty Alaska Airlines plane and took off from Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state before crashing near a small island Friday night, officials said.

A Horizon Airlines plane with no passengers inside crashed after takeoff following a chase by two F-15 fighter jets that were scrambled by North American Aerospace Defense Command to deal with the incident.

A Horizon Air plane was reportedly hijacked from a Sea-Tac Airport runway Friday night and was flown around until it eventually crashed in Ketron Island outside of Seattle, according to Federal Aviation Association sources.

Instead, the sheriff's office said the cause of the crash could have been either the pilot's inexperience, or his decision to pull mid-air stunts during his short flight.

A video uploaded to social media showed an aircraft matching a Q400's profile flying above a rural area, followed by a fighter jet.

"I don't know, man", the pilot answers.

"No others involved", the office of the Pierce County Sheriff said on Twitter.

Witness footage shows the plane's erratic flight prior to the crash. It said the jets were not involved in the crash.

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Authorities initially identified the man as a mechanic but have since then said he was a ground service agent.

"The person who stole it was either doing it on a lark, or was suicidal", Pastor said, adding there was no indication anyone else was on the plane. He said the man who took the plane appeared to have died.

Alaska Airlines planes sit on the tarmac at Sea-Tac International Airport Friday evening, August 10, 2018, in SeaTac, Wash. The plane had an unauthorized takeoff from Sea-Tac Airport at around 8:00 p.m., and then crashed.

News reports said the plane was stolen about 8 p.m. local time.

The pilot - who has not yet been formally named but is addressed as "Rich" in the recordings - says he's "got a lot of people that care about me" and that he was "just a broken guy".

"My husband and I are recently former Boeing employees and we were wondering why a jet was near the passenger airplane", she said. He didn't hear the crash, but saw smoke.

'It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie, ' he told the newspaper. "The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low".

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