Bizarre airplane theft ends in lone fatality

Scenes from fatal joyride
A Horizon Air plane, commandeered by an airline employee without passengers, was chased by F-15 fighter jets before crashing on an island southwest of Seattle. (Images: KING 5 News and Twitter)

By Alan Boyle and Todd Bishop

A distressed Horizon Air employee stole one of the airline’s planes from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tonight and roamed through the air with F-15 fighter jets in pursuit until the plane crashed on Ketron Island, southwest of Seattle, authorities said.

No passengers were aboard the Bombardier Q400 turboprop plane, and authorities did not immediately release information about the fate of the employee — but video from the scene showed burning debris strewn across the island.

Air traffic at Sea-Tac Airport was temporarily grounded due to the security threat, according to reports from Horizon Air’s parent company, Alaska Air.

In audio recordings from the air traffic control system, the man flying the plane said that he was “just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it, until now.”

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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