An airline worker who stole an empty passenger plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has died after crashing the plane .
He talked to air traffic controllers as he flew, saying he only wanted to do a couple of “maneuvers” and at another that he was “just a broken guy.”
The ground services worker for Horizon Air, whose name has not been released, died. He was identified by authorities as a 29-year-old resident of Pierce County in Washington state.
The man took off from the runway with the Horizon Air passenger plane at 7:32 p.m. local time Friday, officials said.
The 76-seat airliner was captured on video doing large loops and other risky air stunts during its hour-long flight. It crashed an hour after takeoff on a sparsely populated island.
“This might have been a joyride gone terribly wrong,”‘We don’t know how he learned to do that’ said Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor.
— Kai Simpson (@Kai_AHS) August 11, 2018
Airline officials said they are not sure how the ground services worker learned to operate a plane, much less perform flying stunts.
There are many switches and levers to start a plane, Horizon Air CEO Gary Beck said at a news conference Saturday. “We don’t know how he learned to do that.”
“To our knowledge he did not have a pilot’s license,” Beck said. But he performed some “incredible” maneuvers.
The man was authorized to be in the area of the airfield where the plane was parked for maintenance, officials said.
The FBI is leading an investigation into the incident, including interviewing the man’s coworkers and family members, the FBI special agent in charge said at the news conference.