Praise for the Seattle air traffic controller who established a relationship with the hijacker

Richard Russell, a married 29-year-old Horizon Air employee (seen with his wife, Hannah) was recalled in a family statement released at a press conference on Saturday as a

The air traffic controller who established a relationship with a suicide baggage handler after he hijacked an empty Alaskan Airlines plane in Seattle has been praised for defusing the situation and helping to prevent mass casualties.

Richard Russell, a 29-year-old Horizon Air employee, hijacked the 76-seat aircraft from the maintenance area at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and somehow managed to take off on Friday night.

He remained in contact with an air traffic controller throughout the test, who quietly tried to reason with Russell until he crashed into a fireball near Ketron Island.

The audio of the exchange shows how the driver, who has not been identified, remained during the test when Russell told him that he "did not want to hurt anyone" and apologized to his family for what he was about to do.

No, I will not take you to any plane. In fact, I'm keeping you away from the planes that are trying to land at Sea-Tac, "the controller said at one point during the ordeal." We're trying to find a place for you to land safely. "

The controller then told Russell not to worry about ending up in jail after the kidnapper joked about the consequences he would face.

MOVE FOR VIDEO

Russell in his luggage controller uniform

Russell in his luggage controller uniform

Richard Russell, a married 29-year-old Horizon Air employee, (seen with his wife, Hannah, left, and in his uniform, on the right) was remembered in a family statement disclosed at a press conference on Saturday as a " faithful husband "and a & # 39; good friend & # 39;

The National Association of Air Traffic Controllers praised the controller and employees of the Federal Aviation Administration who handled the incident on Saturday.

"We especially recognize the contributions of the controller who worked this aircraft and communicated with the individual at the controls." This controller operates at the Seattle Terminal Radar Approach Control, an FAA facility located in Burien, Washington, just west of Seattle International Airport. Tacoma

"The recordings of the incident show their exceptional professionalism and their calm and balanced dedication to the task at hand, which is a hallmark of our workforce of air traffic controllers throughout the country."

A former FAA official told the Seattle Times that the controller used a "calm, prudent and mature voice to help establish the individual" and that he worked out a plan quickly to help mitigate the risks.

It occurs after Russell's family said on Saturday that they are "shocked and disconsolate" by the ordeal. Russell was remembered in a family statement read by his friends at a press conference as a "faithful husband" to his wife, Hannah, and a "good friend who was loved by everyone."

"It may seem difficult for those who look at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm and compassionate man," they wrote, referring to Russell's nickname.

The family described his death as a "complete shock" and added: "We are devastated by these events and Jesus is truly the only one who keeps this family together at this time."

"As the voice recordings show, Beebo's intention was not to harm anyone and he was right to say that there are many people who love him," they wrote.

Although he had security clearance to be near the planes, Russell did not have a pilot's license and it is unclear how he learned to fly. One expert said that he could have acquired some skills through the use of a computer flight simulator.

The hijacked Horizon Air Q400, which took off from the Seattle-Tacoma airport before crashing 25 miles away in the south of Puget Sound

The hijacked Horizon Air Q400, which took off from the Seattle-Tacoma airport before crashing 25 miles away in the south of Puget Sound

The site of the accident in the south of Puget Sound

The site of the accident in the south of Puget Sound

These images show the hijacked Horizon Air Q400 that took off from the Seattle-Tacoma airport on Friday before crashing 25 miles away in the south of Puget Sound (left, in the air, just after the accident)

The family statement was read by friends of Russell's family on Saturday. It is not believed that any member of his family was present

The family statement was read by friends of Russell's family on Saturday. It is not believed that any member of his family was present

The family statement was read by friends of Russell's family on Saturday. It is not believed that any member of his family was present

Witnesses described seeing the plane making barrels and loops while military aircraft were moving it away from densely populated areas and onto Ketron Island, where it crashed into a fireball.

"He did some aerial acrobatics on the plane that I was surprised to see," said Rick Christenson, a retired operational supervisor of Horizon Air.

"And for him to do that, I think he played in a simulator or what, I thought it was pretty amazing, maybe it was luck, I do not know.

& # 39; He was a warm and compassionate man & # 39 ;: full statement of the family of the kidnapper Richard Russell

On behalf of the family, we are stunned and disconsolate. It may seem difficult for those who look at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm and compassionate man. It is impossible to cover who was in a press release. He was a faithful husband, a loving son and a good friend. A childhood friend commented that Beebo was loved by everyone because he was kind and gentle to everyone he knew.

This is a complete shock for us. We are devastated by these events and Jesus is truly the only one who keeps this family together at this time. Without Him, we would be hopeless. As the voice recordings show, Beebo's purpose was not to harm anyone and he was right to say that there are many people who love him.

We want to thank the authorities who have been helpful and respectful, Alaska Air for their resources, the community, their friends and family for their incredible support and compassion, and for Jesus, whose constant love lasts. We also want to thank the media for their sensitivity and recognize that this is the only statement the family will make, and we request that we now have space to mourn.

At this time, the family is moving forward with the difficult task of processing our pain. We appreciate your prayers Thank you

During the kidnapping, Russell joked with air traffic controllers about how he would be imprisoned for life for stealing the plane, before telling them he was a "broken man" with "a few loose screws".

He may also have hinted at having used some form of flight simulator in the past in an exchange when he told the officers he did not need help because, "I've played some video games before."

Horizon Air CEO Gary Beck said he was bewildered about how Russell acquired flight skills. "We do not know how he learned to do that," he said.

& # 39; Commercial aircraft are complex machines. I have no idea how he achieved that experience.

Russell had worked for Horizon Air at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for almost four years, according to his LinkedIn account, as a ground service agent and operations agent.

Horizon Air executive director Constance von Muehlen said in a video that "our hearts are with the individual's family on board and with all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees."

Officials said during a press conference on Saturday that Russell used a push tractor to turn the plane 180 degrees before taking off.

Debra Eckrote of the National Transportation Safety Board said it was conceivable that a ground service agent would be able to start a plane.

"They do not necessarily use a key, so there are switches they use to turn on the aircraft," he said.

"So, if the person has a basic understanding, from what I understand, it was support personnel, ground staff, probably have at least a basic knowledge on how to start the aircraft."

Russell was born in Key West, Florida and moved to Alaska when he was seven years old, according to a 2017 blog post. He met his wife, Hannah, in 2010, when they were both in school and married a year later. They do not seem to have children.

According to Russell's blog, he and Hannah opened a bakery called Hannah Marie's Bakery in North Bend, Oregon, and ran it for three years.

In 2015, the couple moved to Seattle & # 39; because we were both so far from our families & # 39; wrote Russell.

"By not convincing Hannah of the greatness of Alaska, we decided on Sumner because of his closeness to his family," he said.

While living in Seattle, Russell started working for Horizon Air writing that he enjoyed traveling to Alaska in his spare time. Russell, who was pursuing a bachelor's degree in social science from Washington State University, said he wanted to move up his company to work one day in a management position.

The Horizon Air worker, however, also had other dreams, writing on his blog that he was considering becoming a military officer.

Richard Russell

Richard Russell

Richard Russell

Richard Russell

Russell worked for Horizon Air at the Seattle-Tacoma airport for nearly four years, according to his LinkedIn account, as a ground service agent and operations agent.

Russell, 29, married his wife Hannah in 2011 after meeting at the school the previous year. They are seen together in a photo without date

Russell, 29, married his wife Hannah in 2011 after meeting at the school the previous year. They are seen together in a photo without date

Russell, 29, married his wife Hannah in 2011 after meeting at the school the previous year. They are seen together in a photo without date

Richard and Hannah Russell

Richard and Hannah Russell

Russell posted several videos on his blog that show him and his wife (pictured) traveling the world.

Russell's blog is full of images of him and his wife traveling around the world. The 29-year-old also shared photos of his wedding day and several videos showing what he does at work.

In a video, apparently for a class project, Russell introduces himself as & # 39; Beebo Russell & # 39; and he says he picks up a lot of bags & # 39; in your work.

"Like many bags," he says. & # 39; So many bags & # 39;

He went on to say that because of his work, he has been able to visit places like France, Idaho, Mexico, Ireland and Alaska. Russell finished the nearly two-minute video sharing photos of his family.

YouTube's final publication of Seattle aircraft hijacker reveals his boredom with his "minimum wage" job

The latest YouTube video posted by a Seattle airplane hijacker shows a man happily married to a monotonous job that is only a glimmer of hope in the travel opportunities he provided.

It has been revealed that Richard Russell was the 29-year-old pilot who stole an Alaska Airlines plane from the Seattle-Tacoma airport and took him an hour's walk to hit an island in a fireball on Friday night.

A video posted on Russell's amateur travel blog in December 2017 provides an intimate insight into his life as a ground service agent for Horizon Airlines, a job that consisted primarily of loading and unloading luggage, paying only $ 13.75 per hour.

Hi, I'm Beebo Russell and I'm a maintenance service agent. That means that I raise many bags. Like, many bags. So many bags ", narrates on clips of consecutive suitcases that are loaded in and out of the airplanes while a cheerful melody is played in the background.

& # 39; Look at all the bags. Ooh, one purple, "he says cheekily.

After emphasizing the monotony of Russell's work through several baggage clips, the video shows a 29-year-old selfie, working in the rain, followed by images of a storm that soaks the Sea-Tac asphalt.

"Normally I have to work out on this," says Russell.

"But, it also allows me to do some great things."

The second half of the two-minute video is dedicated to Russell's travels, presenting photos and videos of his different trips around the world.

Several of his adventures were in his wife's state of Alaska, including a plane ride through the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan and excursions at Hatcher Pass in Palmer and Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.

It also shows clips of a ski trip on Schweitzer Mountain in Sandpoint, Idaho, and a hiking trip on the Precipice Trail in Maine's Acadia National Park.

Outside the US UU., One of Russell's favorite locations seems to be France, where he toured everywhere, from Alsace to Sisteron, to Lavanda Field in Valensole.

Other international experiences shown in the video include a hurling match in Dublin, Ireland, and a weekend of boys at Chichén Itzá in Mexico.

Russell concludes the video with several photos in meetings with friends and family, and says: "The most important thing is that I can visit the ones I love the most".

Russell said in a blog post that he and his wife met in Oregon and moved to Seattle in 2015

Russell said in a blog post that he and his wife met in Oregon and moved to Seattle in 2015

Russell said in a blog post that he and his wife met in Oregon and moved to Seattle in 2015

It does not seem that Russell and his wife had children. The couple is photographed in a Facebook photo

It does not seem that Russell and his wife had children. The couple is photographed in a Facebook photo

It does not seem that Russell and his wife had children. The couple is photographed in a Facebook photo

The photo above is Russell in what appears to be a wedding. He published the photo at the end of one of his YouTube videos

The photo above is Russell in what appears to be a wedding. He published the photo at the end of one of his YouTube videos

The photo above is Russell in what appears to be a wedding. He published the photo at the end of one of his YouTube videos

Rick Christenson, retired from Horizon Air, told DailyMail.com that Russell was "calm". and & # 39; a nice child & # 39;

Christenson did not supervise Russell's team, but said he saw the 29-year-old pass while at work.

"He always had a nice smile," he said. "He seemed calm, and always had a smile, and people who knew him said he was a good guy."

Christenson said he was sitting on his terrace Friday night at his home in Tacoma with his wife, his cousin and his cousin's wife when he saw that the Horizon Q400 flew over his house.

"Suddenly, one of the Horizon Q400 toured the house at 500 feet, followed by two F-15s, one was tall, one short," said Christenson, adding that he knew something was wrong because the plane was flying too low.

He added in a separate interview: "Everyone is stunned … that something like that would happen". How could it? Everyone has gone through background checks.

The former supervisor said he grabbed a pair of binoculars to look at the plane, admitting that he was "scared" and "worried" because he did not know what was happening.

"I was doing a lot of strange flights, strange turns," he said, "but he was coming back to us, on our way."

Christenson said that while the plane was on the water he made a 360 degree turn and submerged quickly.

"He lifted the wing and the whole plane rolled and, as he rolled, he plunged in. It seemed like control," he said, adding that the plane stopped less than 50 feet from the tip of the plane to the water.

Christenson said that two minutes later there was a "big column of black smoke", which indicates that the plane had crashed.

Two F-15 fighter planes left Portland minutes later to intercept him, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. In the image is the plane hijacked, the top part and one of the F-15s below it

Two F-15 fighter planes left Portland minutes later to intercept him, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. In the image is the plane hijacked, the top part and one of the F-15s below it

Two F-15 fighter planes left Portland minutes later to intercept him, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Office. In the image is the plane hijacked, the top part and one of the F-15s below it

There is smoke and an orange glow on Ketron Island in Washington State, where the plane finally lands.

There is smoke and an orange glow on Ketron Island in Washington State, where the plane finally lands.

There is smoke and an orange glow on Ketron Island in Washington State, where the plane finally lands.

The retired Horizon Air worker also said he does not understand how Russell could back the plane on the taxiway alone, although he said it is possible.

"It's not the procedure," he said, explaining that usually a team of two people moves a plane.

Christenson said that under normal circumstances a worker is in the cabin communicating with the tower, and a second person is on the tractor used to push the plane.

Authorities have said that Russell was alone on the plane, but they do not know how he moved the plane and took off without being detected.

Russell's primary role as a ground service agent was to load and unload bags, direct aircraft for takeoff and de-icing aircraft in the winter.

According to a job, land service agents receive approximately $ 13.75 per hour and as full-time employees receive benefits, travel privileges for themselves and their families and are eligible for a bonus program.

Nowhere in the job description is it mentioned that ground service agents can fly planes.

Police officers standing in a stadium at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom. Questions will now be asked about airport security and how an unqualified worker had access to the plane.

Police officers standing in a stadium at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom. Questions will now be asked about airport security and how an unqualified worker had access to the plane.

Police officers standing in a stadium at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom. Questions will now be asked about airport security and how an unqualified worker had access to the plane.

Emergency service vehicles at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom, Washington, on Friday night, near the location where the accident is suspected

Emergency service vehicles at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom, Washington, on Friday night, near the location where the accident is suspected

Emergency service vehicles at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom, Washington, on Friday night, near the location where the accident is suspected

& # 39; I do not need so much help. I've played some video games before ": Employee talks air traffic control moments before crashing

Shortly after the plane took off, traffic controllers were heard on a live Internet broadcast talking to a man identified as "Rich."

"There's a track just right on a mile, you see?" the traffic controller said.

"Oh, those guys will try to ruin me if I try to land there …" Rich replied. & # 39; I think I could spoil something there too. I would not like to do that. Oh, they probably have antiaircraft.

"They do not have any of that, we're just trying to find a place to land safely."

"Yes, I'm still not ready to knock it down, but the sacred smoke needs to stop looking at the fuel because it's falling fast."

"Okay, Rich, if you could, you could start turning left and we'll take you southeast."

This is probably jail for life, huh? I hope it's for a guy like me. & # 39;

Rich: I have many people who care about me. You will be disappointed to hear that I did this.

I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, he has some loose screws, I guess. I never really knew, until now

Rich: I dropped to 2,100, I started at 30 and peak.

Air traffic control: Rich, did you say you had 2,100 pounds of fuel left?

Rich: Yes, I do not know what ardor is, exhaustion? It's like a takeoff, but yes, it burned a lot faster than I expected.

Air traffic control: Right now he is flying, and he just needs help to control the plane.

Rich: No, I mean, I do not need that much help. I've played some video games before. I'd like to find out how to get this … pressurized or something like that, so I'm not dizzy.

Rich: Ah minimum wage. We will attribute it to that. Maybe that lubricates the gears a bit with the superiors

Rich: Damn Andrew, the lives of people are at stake here.

Air traffic control: Ah Rich, do not say things like that.

Rich: I do not want to hurt anyone, I just want you to whisper sweet sweets in my ear.

Rich: Hey, do you think that if I land this successfully, Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?

Air traffic control: You know, I think they would give you a job doing anything if you could achieve this.

Rich: Yeah right! Nah, I'm a white boy

Air traffic control: If you wanted to land, probably your best option is that track just in front and to your left. Again, that's McCourt (sic) Field.

If you would like to try, that could be the best way to configure and see if you can land there. Or just like the pilot's suggestion, the other option could be about Puget Sound, on the water.

Rich: Dang, did you talk to McCourt, because I do not know if he'd be happy with you telling me he could land like that, because it really could ruin some things?

Air traffic control: Well rich, I already talked to them. Like me, what we want to see is that you do not get hurt or that someone else gets hurt. So, if you want to try to land, that is the way to go.

Rich: Hi, I want the coordinates of that orca, you know, the mother orca with the baby. I want to see that guy.

Rich: Hey, is that pilot on? I want to know what the weather will be like at the Olympic Games (mountains).

Air traffic control: Well, if you can see the Olympics, the weather is good. I can see the Olympics from my window, and it looks pretty good there.

Rich: All right, because I felt something, what felt like a turbulence around Rainer, but there were hardly any clouds.

Air traffic control: Oh, that's just the wind blowing on all the bumpy surfaces.

Captain Bill: Well Rich, this is Captain Bill. Congratulations, you did it, try to land safely and not hurt anyone on the ground.

Rich: All right, damn, I do not know man, I do not know. I do not want … I was hoping it was that, you know.

Rich: I'm going to land, in a safe way. I think I'll try to make a barrel, and if that goes well, I'll lower my nose and call it a night.

Air traffic control: Well rich, before doing that, let's think about this. Another pilot awaits me, pilot Joel, in just a minute, I hope. And we can give you some advice on what to do next.

Rich: I feel like one of my engines is shutting down or something.

Air traffic control: OK Rich, if you could, you just want to keep that plane on the water. Maybe keep the plane nice and low.

Rich: Just a little dazed, dizzy. Man, the views went by so fast. I was thinking, like, I'm going to have this moment of serenity, enjoy all the places of interest. There are many beautiful things, but they are more beautiful in a different context.

Air traffic control: Do you have any idea how much fuel you have left?

Rich: Oh man, it's not enough. Not enough to get ahead. How, uh, 760? 760 pounds?

Air traffic control: Simply flying around the plane, do you feel comfortable with that?

Rich: Oh hell, yes, it's a wonder. I've played video games before, so I know what I'm doing a little.

Air traffic control: OK, and you can see all the terrain around you, do not you have any problems with visibility or anything?

Rich: Naw, everything is peachy, peachy clean. I just made a small circle around Rainer, it's beautiful. I think I have some gas to go to see the Olympic Games (mountains).

Rich: I would not know how to land, I really was not planning to land.

Rich: I'm sorry, my microphone came out, I vomited a little. I'm sorry, I hope this does not ruin your day.

Rich: Man, have you been to the Olympics? These boys are beautiful, holy smoke.

Air traffic control: Ya, I've been there, it's always a good trip.

Rich: (inaudible)

Air traffic control: Hey, I bet yes. I have not done much hiking there. But if you could start to turn left, and back to the east. I know you have a good view there, but if you go too far in that direction I will not be able to hear you anymore.

Rich: Hi pilot boy, can this do a backflip, you think?

Rich: I would not mind shooting the boys, but it's all a matter, you know?

During a press conference on Saturday morning, NTSB researcher Debra Eckrote said they are trying to determine "what their process was and where the aircraft was headed."

"He has support in the field so, you know, they have access to the planes," he said, adding that we are "very fortunate" that the plane fell on a "very sparsely populated island."

She said the plane stopped in a thick brush on Ketron Island, and that the first responders had to "open a path". to get to the wreckage of the plane.

Eckrote said the plane is "very fragmented" and that the wings were torn off in the accident. She said the respondents could not identify much on Friday night because there was a fire, but they took Saturday to concentrate on the areas we're looking for.

Eckrote described the incident as "very common" and said the FBI was thoroughly investigating Russell to determine a motive.

"Last night's event will push us to learn what we can from this tragedy so we can make sure this does not happen again at Alaska Air Group or any other airline," said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said Saturday morning that President Trump received information about the incident and was monitoring the situation. He also praised the response effort for his "quick action" and guarantee public safety.

Ferry workers sit idly by as they drive fire trucks to a ferry to Ketron Island on Friday, August 10.

Ferry workers sit idly by as they drive fire trucks to a ferry to Ketron Island on Friday, August 10.

Ferry workers sit idly by as they drive fire trucks to a ferry to Ketron Island on Friday, August 10.

A map showing Ketron Island, a wooded area inhabited by 24 people, according to the 2000 census

At one point in the flight, Russell asked the air traffic controllers: "Do you think that if I land this successfully, Alaska will give me a pilot position?"

The air traffic controller, trying to keep it aside, answered "you know, I think you'd get a job doing anything if you could do this," to which Rich replied, "Yes." , Clear! Nah, I'm a white guy.

He was also heard telling traffic controllers that he was "just a broken guy" before telling them he was preparing to go to jail.

This is probably jail for life, huh? I hope it's for a guy like me, "he said.

Once again, traffic control tried to get Russell to land.

"There's a track just right on a mile, you see?" the traffic controller said.

"Oh, those guys will try to ruin me if I try to land there …" Russell replied. & # 39; I think I could spoil something there too. I would not like to do that. Oh, they probably have antiaircraft.

"They do not have any of that, we're just trying to find a place to land safely," the traffic controller replied.

Russell told the air traffic controller that he was not "ready" to shoot down the plane.

"But the sacred fumes need to stop looking at the fuel because it is falling fast," he added.

"Okay, Rich, if you could, you could start turning left and we'll take you southeast," said the traffic controller.

Air Alaska passengers wait in the terminal after the kidnapping incident, which landed on the planes and caused the delay of several flights.

Air Alaska passengers wait in the terminal after the kidnapping incident, which landed on the planes and caused the delay of several flights.

Air Alaska passengers wait in the terminal after the kidnapping incident, which landed on the planes and caused the delay of several flights.

A large aircraft maintenance building by Alaska Air is seen at take-off from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in this undated file photo

A large aircraft maintenance building by Alaska Air is seen at take-off from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in this undated file photo

A large aircraft maintenance building by Alaska Air is seen at take-off from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in this undated file photo

The island of Ketron, where the plane fell, is a densely wooded area that harbors 24 people, according to the 2000 census. None of the island's residents is believed to have suffered damage.

Royal King told The Seattle Times that he was photographing a wedding when he saw the low-flying turboprop pursued by F-15. He said he did not see the accident, but he saw smoke.

"It was unfathomable, it was something taken from a movie," he told the newspaper. & # 39; The smoke stopped. You could still hear the F-15, who were flying very low.

Horizon Air is part of the Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the western United States.

Sea-Tac is the ninth busiest airport in the US UU And it transported 46.9 million passengers and more than 425,800 metric tons of air cargo in 2017.

  • To obtain confidential assistance in the US UU. Call the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-8255.
  • For confidential assistance in the United Kingdom, call the Samaritans at 116123 or visit a local Samaritan branch, visit www.samaritans.org for more information.
  • For confidential assistance in Australia, call Lifeline's 24-hour crisis support at 13 11 14.

HOW WAS THE EMPLOYEE OF THE SEATTLE AIRLINE CAPABLE OF HIJACK JET?

Investigators have been working to determine how Horizon Air employee Richard Russell could steal an empty turboprop aircraft from Sea-Tac Airport and take it to an hour's ride that ended in a fiery collision on an island in Puget Sound.

The 29-year-old reportedly stole the Horizon Air Q400 jet from the maintenance area and launched himself into the skies around 8 pm on Friday, despite having no apparent flight experience.

It is still unclear how he was able to gain access to the aircraft and fly out of the airport undetected.

"We do not know how he learned to do that," Horizon CEO Gary Beck told reporters when asked how Russell could perform loop-the-loop and barrels while piloting the plane.

& # 39; Commercial aircraft are complex machines. I have no idea how he achieved that experience.

Russell worked for Horizon Air at the Seattle-Tacoma airport for nearly four years, according to his LinkedIn account, as a ground service agent and operations agent.

The strange incident involving a worker that the authorities said was suicide points to one of the greatest potential dangers to commercial air travel: airline or airport employees causing chaos.

"The biggest threat we have to aviation is the internal threat," said Erroll Southers, a former FBI agent and transportation safety expert.

"Here we have an employee who was tested at the level to have access to the aircraft and had a skill set competent enough to take off with that plane."

The Friday night accident occurred because the 29-year-old man was doing stunts in the air or lack of flying skills, said the Pierce County Sheriff's Department. The man, who thought he was dead, was not immediately identified.

The video showed that the Horizon Air Q400 made large loops and other dangerous maneuvers as the sun went down on Puget Sound. There were no passengers on board.

The plane was pursued by military aircraft before crashing on the small island Ketron, southwest of Tacoma, Washington. The video showed burning flames in the middle of trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and can only be accessed by ferry. No structures on the ground were damaged, Alaska Airlines said.

Authorities initially said Russell was a mechanic, but Alaska Airlines later said it was believed to be a ground service agent employed by Horizon. These employees direct aircraft for takeoff and boarding of the door and de-icing aircraft.

The sheriff's department officials said they were working with the FBI to investigate the man's background and try to determine his motive.

Researchers hope they can retrieve both the cockpit voice recorder and the event data recorder from the plane.

Alaska Air Group general manager Brad Tilden said in a statement on Saturday morning that the airline was "working to discover everything we can about what happened."

The airline was coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board, he said.

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