After being contacted by F-15's, stolen plane began to nose dive, crashing in north Pierce County.
In a video posted on YouTube last December, Mr Russell shows luggage coming off and being loaded onto aircraft, and describes what the life of a ground service agent can entail.
Two F-15 fighter jets scrambled from Portland "minutes later" to intercept it, according to Pierce County Sheriff's Office.
The site on Ketron Island in Washington state where an Horizon Air turboprop plane crashed after it was stolen from Sea-Tac International Airport is seen from the air, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, near Steilacoom, Wash.
Dave Leval contributed information to this story. We know who he is.
A sheriff's department spokesman said the man may have been suicidal but there was no terrorism connection.
Video showed the Horizon Air Q400 doing large loops and other unsafe maneuvers as the sun set on the Puget Sound. There were no passengers aboard.
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"They don't have any of that stuff", the air-traffic controller said.
Officials said the plane later crashed into the sea.
Southers says that if the man knew how to do loops he likely had the skills to target people on the ground. Video showed fiery flames amid trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry.
Richard then says he feels like one of the engines "is going out or something".
Within minutes of the plane's takeoff, the military scrambled two armed F-15 jets from OR to follow it, according to local and airline authorities and two sources with knowledge of the situation.
The sheriff's department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the Pierce County resident, whose name was not immediately released. Horizon Air is a division of Alaskan that flies shorter routes in the western US.
Authorities say he commandeered an empty Bombardier Q400, 107-foot (32.61 m) long turboprop aircraft on Friday night from a maintenance area at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Airplane stolen from Washington airport crashes
As a ground service agent, employees work directing aircraft for takeoff, gate approach and de-icing planes . 'The smoke lingered. A stolen airplane belonging to the Alaska Airlines crashed near Seattle's Sea-Tac International Airport late on Friday.
An audio emerged online of a conversation between a man who hijacked a plane from the Seattle Airport and an air-traffic controller.
The air traffic control staffer called him Rich, but authorities haven't named the man.
He attempts to guide him toward a runaway a mile way.
The man seemed to understand that his actions would have dire consequences. "This is probably jail time for life, huh?
I mean, I would hope it is, for a guy like me". "And, uh, it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this".
"Got a few screws loose, I guess", Russell is heard saying in the recording.
Airline officials said the ground service agent had a certification to tow aircraft, which results in a higher security clearance than other ground agents. It crashed on the south of Ketron Island, near a military facility.
The crash sparked a fire in the dense forest. The plane was "highly fragmented and the wings are off", she said.
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