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A Bombardier Dash-8 Q400 aircraft operated by Alaska Airlines subsidiary Horizon Air was stolen from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) on Friday night with no passengers on board by a 29-year old airline mechanic. The plane crashed on Ketron Island in south Puget Sound after being chased by US military F-15s. No one is believed to have been injured on the ground, but the pilot appears to have died in the crash, according to the local sheriff’s office.
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.
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.— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) August 11, 2018
Authorities said the man was suicidal and that there was no connection to terrorism. Air traffic controllers on the ground were in regular communication with the pilot, with audio tapes of the encounter showing controllers attempting to convince the man to land the plane at a nearby military base.
At one point, the pilot indicated he felt lightheaded, perhaps as a result of the aircraft not being properly pressurized.
The pilot also expressed remorse for his actions, saying he had “a few screws loose, I guess.”
Operations resumed at SEA around 9:30pm. The stolen Q400 was a six year old turboprop and had flown to Seattle from Victoria, British Columbia (YYJ) earlier in the day. The Q400 model is an updated version of the Bombardier Dash-8 airplane, seating 76 passengers.
This story will be updated as additional details become available.