Stolen Horizon Air plane crashes in Puget Sound island

Alaska Airlines has confirmed an'unauthorised take-off in Seattle

The pilot, identified by local law enforcement as a 29-year-old ground service agent for Alaska Airlines sister carrier Horizon Air identified only as "Rich", sent several distraught transmissions while piloting the aircraft over open frequencies. It's a small island with about two dozen residents.

A full investigation into the incident has been launched, and it is expected it will focus on how Mr Russell was able to take control of the aircraft, taxi it and take it off without detection.

A commercial airline was hijacked from Seattle-Tacoma Airport by an airline employee and pursued by two F-15 fighter jets before crashing on Friday.

A stolen commercial airline from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday night crashed outside Chambers Bay golf course.

"Safety is our No. 1 goal", said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines.

It's believed there were no passengers or other crew on board.

Employees who work in secured areas are physically screened at SeaTac, a layer of security that many airports do not have. We know who he is. "If they want to cover up the issue they can usually do so if they try", Prof Bamber said.

There was no connection to terrorism, said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the sheriff's department.

Video showed the Horizon Air Q400 doing large loops and other risky maneuvers as the sun set on the Puget Sound. There were no passengers aboard.

Alaska Air said the F-15s were scrambled from a Portland air base.

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The rogue employee turned the plane 180 degrees moving the aircraft to the center runway.

"We're fortunate in the sense that it wasn't a terrorist, someone focused on causing mass destruction", former TSA administrator John Pistole said.

Video recordings from around the area show the plane flying incredibly low, and at times doing tricks, which clearly are not common for such a large aircraft. Only the unknown pilot was on the plane.

"This is a complete shock to us", the family said Saturday night.

Irwin Downes recorded a cloud of smoke billowing from Ketron Island after the crash. Ketron Island is a sparsely populated island 25 miles (40 km) southwest of the airport.

Port of Seattle Commissioner Courtney Gregoire said at a press conference that Russell had passed all necessary background checks and that the airport had been working on improving its security screenings.

The plane was stolen at around 8pm (3am GMT yesterday) and crashed 90 minutes later, officials said.

The Bombardier Q400 turboprop is designed for short-distance flights and can seat 76 passengers, Alaska Air said.

An air traffic controller tried to convince him to land the airplane.

This is probably jail time for life, huh? "And, uh, it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this".

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