Officials express sadness after employee steals and crashes airplane

A Horizon Air worker took a 76-seat plane for a joyride before crashing it off the coast of Washington state. Airline officials are offering condolences—and talking new safety measures.

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A wild story turned tragic when a stolen airplane crashed off the coast of Washington state.

Richard Russell, a 29-year-old Horizon Air employee, took a 76-seat plane into the air—seemingly with no flight training or experience. In speaking to air traffic controllers, Russell quipped that he had learned to fly planes from video games. He then did a barrel roll before crashing the plane on a remote, wooded island.

Initial reports that the plane had been shot down by F-15s were erroneous. Though the fighter jets had been scrambled to his location, they did not take action.

In responding to the incident the airline’s parent company, Alaska Air Holdings, immediately tweeted a preliminary statement :

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

The carrier also tweeted updates:

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