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Updated: Horizon Air Q400 Stolen; Crashes Near Seattle

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Updated: Horizon Air Q400 Stolen; Crashes Near Seattle

Alaska Airlines

Updated: Horizon Air Q400 Stolen; Crashes Near Seattle
August 11
01:00 2018

BREAKING — Airways Magazine confirms reports of an Alaska Airlines Q400 that was stolen and has crashed in the greater Seattle area.

According to various reports, around 8 p.m. Pacific Time, an Alaska Airlines Bombardier Q400 operated by Horizon Air took off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport without permission from Air Traffic Control.

The airline confirmed the aircraft involved is N449QX, a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.

Photo: Brandon Farris

Alaska Airlines says it was an “unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400. We believe there are no passengers on board.”

Its last passenger flight was from Victoria, BC. earlier in the day.

Shortly after taking off, fighters jets were scrambled to intercept the rogue aircraft.

In a tweet, Alaska Airlines stated, “We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400. We believe there are no passengers on board. More information as we learn more.”

The FAA confirmed that it has a report that “an aircraft was taken without authorization from Sea-Tac International Airport.”

Witness reports in the Puget Sound confirmed that before crashing, the plane did a barrel roll almost hitting the water—an impressive maneuver for a turboprop airliner.

“We have a report that an aircraft crashed near Ketron Island a short time ago. We cannot confirm the identity of the aircraft,” said the statement.

The plane was reportedly stolen by an Alaska Airlines employee with not enough experience to land the plane back onto the runway.

PLANE STOLEN BY AN EMPLOYEE


The airline’s employee, named “Rich,” communicated with ATC leisurely asking for instructions on where and how to fly the aircraft.

“Hey, do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?” he said in one of his radio transmissions.

“This is probably like jail time for life, huh? I would hope it is for a guy like me,” he later asked.

During one of his several communications, “Rich” admitted that his actions were going to cause disappointment.

“I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess,” he said. “Never really knew it, until now.”

Rich continued sharing with ATC his thoughts of doing a barrel roll. “I think I am going to try to do a barrel roll and if that goes good then I am going to go nose down and call it a night,” he said.

Bombardier Q400 Pilots, who spoke through the ATC frequency, advised him not to do it “not to hurt anyone on the ground.”

 

 

Rich continued asking technical questions about fuel load, pressurization and air conditioning, as “he was feeling light-headed.”

Several witnesses recorded with smartphones the Q400 flying around the Seattle area at very low altitude, followed by two fighter jets.

The Pierce Sheriff confirmed via a Tweet that the stolen horizon airplane had “crashed into Ketron island.”

“Preliminary info is that a mechanic from unknown airlines stole plane. Was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island,” said the Sheriff.

Morgan Palmer from local TV station KIRO7 Seattle News later shared a photo with the crash site in flames.

By 21:30 local time, SeaTac Airport’s operations resumed after a major ground stop.

In the meantime, the Sheriff announced that he is working diligently with the FBI and the Military to investigate this tragic incident further.

Alaska Airlines tweeted that “we’ve confirmed a Horizon Air Q400 that had an unauthorized takeoff from SeaTac around 8pm has gone down near Ketron Island in Pierce County, WA. We’re working to confirm who was on board, we believe there were no guests or crew on board other than the person operating the plane.”

According to Kris Van Cleave of CBS News, the man who stole the plane was an employee of Horizon Air for 3 1/2 years and had gone through background checks.


This is a developing story. Stay tuned for more updates.
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About Author

Benjamin Bearup

Benjamin Bearup

Aviation journalist from Atlanta, Georgia. Business student at the University of Georgia with a passion for aviation business management. ben@airwaysmag.com @TheAviationBeat

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