Airline employee steals plane, crashes on island in Puget Sound

An onlooker captured a shot of the Alaska Airlines plane in the skies over Seattle.

An onlooker captured a shot of the Alaska Airlines plane in the skies over Seattle."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. | T

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft before it crashed near Ketron Island, southwest of Tacoma, Washington.

The plane was a Q400, a Bombardier turboprop plane, one of about 40 the airline has in its fleet. The tweet said the crash may have been caused by the mechanic 'doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills'.

The unidentified 29-year-old ground service agent was pronounced dead after the crash, Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said.

The sheriff said the pilot appeared to have acted alone and was likely killed in the crash.

Authorities said an airline employee had made "an unauthorised take-off" without any passengers on board.

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

This individual who took the aircraft, who has not yet been positively identified until remains are examined, is believed to have been the only person on the plane when the plane was taken from a maintenance position at Sea-Tac. The employee was a "ground service agent", according to Alaska Airlines.

The newspaper describes him as sounding "carefree and wild" in the audio. He's been around Mount Rainier, now is going to Olympics.

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Then later he began to worry about his fuel.

What did the man tell ATC?

I don't know! I don't want to. "That's McChord" (meaning the military airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord).

Later, an official encouraged him to land the plane, to which the man replied: "I don't know, man". "I wouldn't want to do that. Oh they probably have got anti-aircraft".

A turboprop aircraft is designed for short distance flights, according to the Alaska Air website.

The controller said: "They don't have any of that stuff, we are just trying to find you a place to land safely".

"I'm not quite ready to bring it down just yet", Rich said. "So, I started to capture video, just because I thought it was, kind of weird", he told CNN.

"Oh, Richard", the controller responds. "But could you start a left turn please?" Ketron Island is small - about 230 acres - and fewer than two dozen people live there, Jenkins said. "Never really knew it until now".

Then the passenger plane pilot "did a complete loop ..." F-15 fighter jets were sent from Portland to control the situation and, if necessary to intercept it. John Waldron was walking along a trail near the bay when he noticed the two military jets following another plane. "There was smoke. We saw flames on the hillside, police boats circling, helicopters overhead", he told NPR's Scott Simon on Weekend Edition Saturday.

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