Haunting last footage before baggage handler steals plane and crashes

·News Reporter
·3-min read

Chilling new footage has been released of the moment an airport employee stole a passenger plane off the tarmac before crash landing it and killing himself on a remote island.

Despite having no flying experience, Richard Russell made off in the empty 76-seat Turboprop on August 10, 2018 from Seattle-Tacoma Airport in Washington.

Now surveillance video, issued by the Port of Seattle and obtained by KOIN 6 News, reveals just how the Horizon Air worker pulled off the heist.

Russell had worked for Horizon Air for several years before he stole the aircraft off the tarmac. KOIN 6 News
Russell had worked for Horizon Air for several years before he stole the aircraft off the tarmac. KOIN 6 News

In the opening shot, Russell, wearing a T-shirt reading ‘the sky’s no limit’, can be seen making his way through employee security.

Five hours later, the 29-year-old is captured on the tarmac attaching a tow vehicle to push the plane, operated by Alaska Airlines, onto the runway, before he appears in the cockpit.

After unattaching the tow vehicle, he then entered the aircraft for the final time, closing the door behind him.

While these actions unfolded, cameras caught several other employees going about their business, completely unaware of what was going on.

By the time Russell was ready to leave, he radioed through to air traffic control.

“Seattle Ground, Horizon Guy,” he said in the audio recording.

“It’s gonna be crazy.”

After a smooth take off, the Horizon Air worker told air traffic controllers that he was “just a broken guy” and was preparing for “jail time for life".

“Hey, I found myself in a predicament. I’m in the air right now. And just gonna soar around.

“Got a few screws loose,” he said,” never really knew it until now.”

While workers pleaded with the 29-year-old to safely land the plane, Russell pulled off dangerous manoeuvres including large loops.

“Hey pilot guy, can this thing do a backflip do you think?” he asked.

“Do you think if I land this successful Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?”

Cameras captured the moment Russell pushed out the plane onto the runway and climbed in the cockpit before taking off. Source: Port of Seattle via KOIN 6 News
Cameras captured the moment Russell pushed out the plane onto the runway and climbed into the cockpit before taking off. Source: Port of Seattle via KOIN 6 News

Shortly after Russell took to the skies, he was joined by two F-15 fighter jets from Portland Air National Guard who’s pilots are well trained for potential hijackings and terrorist threats.

While they flanked him, an air traffic controller said “he needs some help controlling his aircraft".

“Nah, I mean, I don’t need that much help,” the baggage handler turned pilot replied, “I’ve played some video games before.”

After 73 minutes in the air, the FBI said Russell deliberately crashed the plane into a tiny island in the Puget Sound 30 miles from the airport and died.

Among his final words, Russell said, “I got a lot of people that care about me.”

“It’s going to disappoint them to hear I did this.”

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 44, or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

Do you have a story tip? Email: newsroomau@yahoonews.com.

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter and download the Yahoo News app from the App Store or Google Play.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting