Losses and Aviation Safety

“Suicidal” Dash 8 airliner intercepted by F-15Cs before crash

F-15Cs aircraft scrambled out of Portland, Oregon, and were in the air within a few minutes and the pilots kept people on the ground safe

On Aug. 10, 2018 a “suicidal” airline employee stole an empty Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 turboprop plane, took off from Sea-Tac International Airport and was chased by military jets before crashing into a small island in the Puget Sound.

According The Washgington Post, preliminary information suggests the crash occurred because the 29-year-old man was “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, said on Twitter the man was suicidal and there was no connection to terrorism.

As the video in this post shows, the Horizon Air Dash 8 was doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers as the sun set on the Puget Sound. There were no passengers aboard. Authorities initially said the man was a mechanic but Alaska Airlines later said he was believed to be a ground service agent employed by Horizon. Those employees direct aircraft for takeoff and gate approach and de-ice planes.

Troyer added that F-15Cs aircraft scrambled out of Portland, Oregon, and were in the air “within a few minutes” and the pilots kept “people on the ground safe.”

The Dash 8 was stolen about 8 p.m. Alaska Airlines said it was in a “maintenance position” and not scheduled for a passenger flight. Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West. The Dash 8 is a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.

The man could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is “just a broken guy.”

An air traffic controller called the man “Rich,” and tried to convince the man to land the airplane.

“There is a runway just off to your right side in about a mile,” the controller says, referring to an airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8-Q400

“Oh man. Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there,” the man responded, later adding “This is probably jail time for life, huh?”

Later the man said: “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this…Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess.”

Flights out of Sea-Tac, the largest commercial airport in the Pacific Northwest, were temporarily grounded during the drama.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force and Hawaiian717 via Wikipedia

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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