Family of man who stole and crashed plane 'shocked and devastated'

A Horizon Q400 airplane

Air traffic controllers tried to encourage the man to land before the plane crashed, a recording being shared online reveals.

The man sounds calm at times and jokes with operators on the ground, who try to direct him to places to land.

"I've got a lot of people that care about me", the pilot says.

According to the statement, family members said they were devasted by the events and that "Jesus is truly the only one holding this family together right now".

In a statement, his family said his "intent was not to harm anyone", referring to audio recordings of Russell talking to air traffic control during the flight.

A number of videos on social media show the plane flying over the area in an erratic manner.

Authorities described him as being suicidal, adding that the incident is not related to terrorism.

The aircraft was stolen about 8 p.m. Alaska Airlines said it was in a "maintenance position" and not scheduled for a passenger flight.

Sheriff Paul A. Pastor said at the press conference that there was no sign that it was a terrorist attack.

In the FBI's latest update, Acting Administrator Dan Elwell said in a statement that they were deeply saddened by the loss of life.

Ms Morse's mother, who lives close to the area where the plane went down, said her whole house shook.

Gary Beck, CEO of Horizon Air, said it wasn't clear how the man knew to start the engine, which requires a series of switches and levers.

Authorities said that Russell, 29, took off Friday evening in an empty, 76-seat Q400 Horizon Air turboprop plane at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport without authorization. He said the military planes were not involved in the crash.

The Seattle airport baggage handler who managed to fly away in a commercial plane before crashing to Earth as a stunned world watched has been identified.

The man, who was a ground agent at Sea-Tac Airport and not a pilot, eventually crashed on Ketron Island and died.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) thanked the Air National Guard for scrambling jets to confront the hijacked aircraft Friday night, and lamented that "there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident".

Gary Howell, a Wasilla High track and field coach, said he remembered Russell as a amusing guy who also had a smile and a joke and was a great team player. The still unidentified man, who was a Horizon Air employee, is believed to have been the only person aboard the plane when it crashed.

The aircraft "crashed in south Puget Sound", Sea-Tac Airport said, adding that normal operations at the transport hub had resumed after a pause.

There were no reports of injuries on the ground, he said, except presumably the pilot.

Mr Russell, a ground service employee with Horizon Air, has not been officially named by authorities but his family have revealed his identity.

Experts say the crash exposed alarming gaps in airport security, and is likely to prompt a major review industry security measures.

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