Horizon Air Q400 Hijacked from Seattle

Hannah Rogers
August 11, 2018

A reportedly suicidal employee at Sea-Tac Airport stole an airplane, flew it to south Puget Sound where he crashed it on Ketron Island Friday night.

A SeaTac Airport employee managed to steal an Alaska Airlines plane from its hanger, taking off without permission and before crashing it on a nearby island.

The two F-15 fighter jets seen intercepting the plane were scrambled out of Portland after the Federal Aviation Administration requested Department of Defense assistance, the military's North American Air Defense Command said.

The plane was taken by a 29-year-old Sumner, Pierce County, man about 8 p.m. and crashed on Ketron Island about 90 minutes later, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.

Alaska Airlines acknowledged the incident in a statement, saying "We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400".

The Q400 is a 76-seater turboprop aircraft.

"I would like to apologize to each and every one of them", the man added.

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office reported the situation was not a terrorist incident.

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Waldron said it seemed that the jets were chasing down the aeroplane. "Pilots kept plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe", the sheriff said on Twitter.

It is reported that the aircraft crashed near Ketron Island outside Seattle.

No passengers were on board and there were no reports of injuries on the ground.

Video footage on social media showed a large plane flying above the Seattle area with a F-15 fighter jet following it.

Air traffic controllers attempted to talk the man into landing at McChord field - but he refused.

The sheriff's department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the Pierce County resident, whose name was not immediately released. "There was smoke. We saw flames on the hillside, police boats circling, helicopters overhead", he told NPR's Scott Simon on Weekend Edition Saturday.

But in the chilling audio recording from the cockpit, the pilot told the air traffic controller that he was "just a broken guy", and said he couldn't land over fears he would be imprisoned.

The incident began around 8pm Pacific on Aug 10, when a Q400 made an unauthorized takeoff from Seattle's SeaTac International airport. "The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low".

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