Last night a ground worker stole a Bombardier Q400 at Seattle Tacoma airport belonging to Alaska Airlines wholly-owned regional carrier Horizon Air. While much of the initial reporting suggested the plane was stolen by a mechanic, it was a 29 year old Horizon Air ground service agent.
The FAA requested Department of Defense assistance. NORAD launched two F-15 fighter jets to intercept the aircraft. They were “working to redirect the aircraft out over the Pacific when it crashed.” The federal government emphasizes that they did not fire on the aircraft.
Much of the coverage so far has focused on the aerial acrobatics of the incident.
— Cameron Thomsen (@CameronThomsen) August 11, 2018
Here’s air traffic control from during the incident.
- At 16m40s air traffic control put a Bombardier Q400 pilot on the line to help talk the man through landing the plane.
- At the 17m50s mark he said “I wasn’t really planning on landing it.”
- He struggled with cabin pressurization and low fuel, and identified himself as ‘Rich’.
- He also told air traffic control that he was going to do a barrel roll — and that if it went well he would “nose down and call it a night.”
- Rich says he has ‘some screws loose’ which he ‘didn’t really know until now.’
Here’s one clip from the audio showing the gallows humor of it all, “do you think if I landed this thing successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?”
Air Traffic Control Audio from the stolen Q400 flight: “Hey, do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?” pic.twitter.com/17sScC6PFh
— Benjamin Bearup (@TheAviationBeat) August 11, 2018
Oddly this wasn’t even the first regional aircraft someone tried to steal this summer.
Whatever triggered this event, I hope Rich found peace and his family can somehow find comfort. Thankfully no one else was hurt.