Constance von Muehlen, chief operating officer of Horizon Air, a sister carrier of Alaska Airlines, said that at about 8 p.m.an employee of the airline undertook an unauthorized take-off of a Q400 twin-engine turboprop airplane.
The "suicidal" mechanic who commandeered and crashed a plane without passengers from a USA airport in Washington state seemed excited, confused, and at times calm while talking with the air traffic control tower. Police also said the incident was not related to terrorism.
Sea-Tac Airport confirmed via Twitter that an airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff of a Horizon Air Turbo Prop without passengers on board. "Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed", Seattle-Tacoma International Airport tweeted.
"I feel like one of my engines is going out or something", Rick said in his last radio transmission, Ostrower reported.
Local media described the man who stole the plane as a mechanic.
"Our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard, along with all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees", the airline said in a video statement posted to Twitter early Saturday.
Air traffic controllers attempted to talk the man into landing at McChord field - but he refused.
Video showed the Horizon Air Q400 doing large loops and other unsafe maneuvers as the sun set on the Puget Sound. "So, I started to capture video, just because I thought it was, kind of freaky", he told CNN. Officials indicate the aircraft crashed due to pilot action and was not forced or shot down.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter that preliminary information suggested that a mechanic had stolen the aircraft.
"I felt like we were on the ground and we were safe, we weren't in the sky while something was going on", he said after getting off the plane. It said the jets were not involved in the crash. The Federal Aviation Administration reported about 9:30 p.m. that a plane crashed.
He said he heard a loud "boom", then saw smoke coming from a spot in Puget Sound where the plane appeared to have crashed.
But in the chilling audio recording from the cockpit, the pilot told the air traffic controller that he was "just a broken guy", and said he couldn't land over fears he would be imprisoned.
Two F-15s and air traffic control operators helped steer the plane away from built up areas and out over the water before it crashed.