Employee steals plane from Seattle airport, crashes it shortly

The aircraft reportedly crashed near Ketron Island near the Chambers Bay Golf Course

The aircraft reportedly crashed near Ketron Island near the Chambers Bay Golf Course

A "suicidal" employee stole an Alaska Airlines passenger plane from Seattle Airport late Friday local time and it later crashed just north of the city, the airline and airport authorities confirmed.

Sea-Tac officials said the airline employee had "conducted an unauthorised takeoff without passengers".

He is believed to have been suicidal when he stole the plane capable of carrying 76 passengers.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said information was sketchy and preliminary regarding the developing incident.

The US Coast Guard said the plane was stolen and was seen flying around Puget Sound at one point, NBC News reported.

"Our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard, as well as all our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees", she said.

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"We've confirmed a Horizon Air Q400 that had an unauthorized takeoff from SeaTac around 8pm has gone down near Ketron Island in Pierce County, WA".

Officials said the plane later crashed into the sea.

It is reported that the man also commented on the beauty of the Olympic Mountains, said he had hoped to have a "moment of serenity" and asked whether the plane could do a back flip.

Released radio conversation between the man and air traffic controllers goes on for more than a half hour.

Ketron Island is about 25 miles southwest of the airport.

"We're just trying to find a place where you can land the plane safely", the controller says.

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The plane was chased by military aircraft, witnesses said.

Local authorities quickly ruled out terrorism as a motive for the incident, and said the F-15s "were not involved in the crash".

In the 25 minute-long recording posted to Broadcastify, the pilot can be heard calmly chatting with Air Traffic Control.

John Waldron, who took dramatic video of the stolen plane flying in a loop, told CNN that he was out for an evening stroll when he saw the two jet fighters following the turboprop aeroplane.

Royal King of Mukilteo was photographing a wedding at Lake Steilacoom when he saw the low-flying plane and two fighter jets trailing it. It said the jets were not involved in the crash.

Jenkins described the island as remote, dark and sparsely populated.

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