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Airplane taken from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport crashes

Agueda Pacheco-Flores, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

SEATTLE--A Horizon Q400 made an unauthorized takeoff from Seattle Tacoma International Airport on Friday night and crashed in the south Puget Sound, according to Alaska Airlines. Other flights were temporarily grounded.

The plane was piloted by a 29-year-old Pierce County man and crashed on Ketron Island, the Pierce County Sheriff's Office said. There were no other passengers on the plane.

The sheriff's office said that "this is not a terrorist incident" and that the pilot was a mechanic from an unknown airline. He crashed from either doing stunts or because of a lack of flying skills.

Reached by phone at 9:30 p.m., Horizon Air CEO Gary Beck said it was too early to say anything and that the airline was still gathering information.

On a live air-traffic control feed, the person flying the plane could be heard speaking with an air-traffic controller who addressed him as Rich and Richard.

Rich seemed excited as he spoke, though also carefree and wild.

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At one point he explained he had put some gas in the plane "to go check out the Olympics... and uh, yeah."

Then later he began to worry about his fuel.

"I'm down to 2100 (pounds)," he told the ATC. "I started at 30 something. ... I don't know what the burnage is like on takeoff, but it burned quite a bit faster than I expected.

The air-traffic controller responded calmly, seeming not to want to upset Rich as the conversation continued and he tried to coax Rich into landing somewhere.

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