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Horizon Air worker takes plane from Sea-Tac Airport, crashes on island in south Puget Sound

A Horizon Air worker took off Friday night in one of the airline’s Q400 turboprops at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and crashed on an island in south Puget Sound after being coaxed by air-traffic control to try to land and trailed by two fighter jets, officials said. ( More...

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Kevin Keswick 12
Video and audio at below link - the person who stole the plane was not a pilot - he can be heard telling ATC he didn't know how to land the plane - said he had "a few screws loose"
Did not know how to land a plane done a loop probably had a lot of time on a simulator
He told the controller he played alot of video games
fredop 8
I'm seeing some stating that he was a ramper not a mechanic.
Ground crew - i believe
Peter Steitz 2
He was not a mechanic. He was what we call a "ramper". They load bags, move stuff around, hook up the towbar and marshall an aircraft into a gate.
paul trubits 12
Says a lot about the Q400. Glad he did not hurt anyone.
Cansojr 1
What does it say about a Q400?
Peter Steitz 2
Normally, a medium sized aircraft needs aft ballast when flown without passengers. He probably had none, so he had a forward CG. Even more impressive was the Q did loops, dives, aggressive pullouts, all flown by an inexperienced guy. He probably exceeded every limitation in the book. The Q is not certified to do any of these things. Yet, the aircraft didn't fail.
That says a lot about the Q-400. That's what Paul Trubits meant.
Kyle Beller 1
was thinking the EXACT same thing.
Just thankful no one other than the person flying that plane were hurt.
sparkie624 2
Amen to that one...
Phil Karn 5
Is there an ADS-B track of this flight?
bhoglan 1
I'm in the area. Is there a way I can play back my ads-b to see if I caught anything?
Phil Karn 1
Does your receiver log all the messages? It probably doesn't by default since it's so much data. I reconfigured mine a while to ago log everything and keep it for a week. Each file is compressed after generation to save space, since they're so bulky but repetitive.
bhoglan 1
I didn't know about that setting. I assume it's changed via the CLI? Can you point me in the right direction to find it?
This will be an excuse to tighten access to GA airports and generally make life more difficult for GA pilots and aircraft owners.
linbb 2
Yes and too bad but guess it needs to happen if people knew what it takes to steal most AC they would be shocked. Light AC, just cut two wires and start it up, larger just know which switches and its see ya. Think I am wrong am an ex mechanic on them.
Certainly true for light aircraft and no reason to believe anything other than what you say about larger aircraft
alex hidveghy 1
Except SEA is NOT a GA airport! You even have wide-body "heavy international flights going in and out of there. Not to mention this guy had a secure side airline pass and had been working several years there. He didn't just hop the fence.
I used to work there as a ramper a few decades ago and have also flown both B757 and A320s in there............
sparkie624 3
Things could have been much worse! He obviously had some knowledge of the a/c or he would have never got it started and got it to the runway... Sorry to hear this happened... People can be real idiots.
I keep hearing everyone say they are amazed he was able to get the a/c started, and there must have been knowledge in order to do what he did......correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't there manuals that step by step pretty much every procedure possible kept inside and readily available to someone sitting in the pilot seat? If so, and if he was authorized to be in the a/c for any extended period of time, it sounds pretty plausible that one could brush up on the manual before operating it like they would a new lawnmower from the Depot? I mean I know you guys like to think piloting is such a skill that nobody else could possibly figure it out......but isn't this portion of process (basic startup and taxiing) the most basic of basic skills of the overall (more complex) process of flying?....most likely documented in a nearby manual within reach? It doesn't seem too far fetched that he was able to do it without flying experience to me if this is the case....
WhiteKnight77 4
As a crew chief in the Marines many years ago, during preflight inspections, we would run the APP and do all sorts of checks including taking the engines far enough for the igniters to fire. It is just a few circuit breakers to set and moving the controls (I am simplifying this). We also ensured that the flight controls were free and worked as advertised (helicopters do have an extra stick as well).

As to how he started the engines, are not the checklists kept onboard the aircraft? Anyone can follow the engine start checklist.
Additionally, I would assume that a ground worker can't just hook up to an aircraft and start moving it without first getting some type of training that involves some controls in the cockpit? I.e. "Before you damage a million dollar plane by yanking on it, you must make sure that xx and yy is not engaged inside the aircraft first". I would think this type of inside knowledge from legitimate training makes this scenario all the more plausible......
linbb 0
He had some knowledge as to flying an aircraft due to the way he was flying it. They are not made to do what he did and somehow it worked. Think it was about to end with the F15 just needing the right place for the right shot.
flypilot12 9
Tex Avery showed that this was in the realm of most aircraft. As long as positive Gs are maintained on the aircraft this is more than within the realm of most aircraft. The only thing about it is that it is UNUSUAL to see a passenger plane do this but, the forces that are exerted on aircraft due to wing and fuselage flexing is all designed into the aircraft. The late great Bob Hoover used to do these same kind of stunts in an Aero Commander. Landing an aircraft is a very different proposition to flying and taking off. As the old adage states: Take-offs are optional, landings are mandatory.

A&P Part 147 Instructor
flypilot12 4
Yes, I had meant Tex Johnston but y'all knew whom I was speaking about.
jaymeinen 2
I think you mean Tex Johnston, Boeing Test Pilot.
william baker 2
Didn’t tex get into trouble when he rolled a 707 during s demonstration flight over some golf course.
jaymeinen 3
He got into a LOT of trouble but because Boeing sold a lot of 707s, he got away with it.
william baker 2
That’s what I was thinking. I think bill allen ringed him then he said I was selling airplanes and bill told him you know that I know that just don’t do it anymore. Lol
Vectorer 2
Perhaps, you had meant Tex Johnston. Will civil airports now have to develop aircraft theft prevention plans as did USAF 60-some years ago? Let's hope that overreaction doesn't happen in the name of "doing something".
Hoover flew Shrike (Aero Commander) loved to shut down an engine and do crazy things with it VERY close to the ground.
Tex flew for Bell and Boeing. Probably most known for rolling the 707, actually the Dash 8.
Derek Lazzari 3
Just a bizarre situation all around.
Kyle Beller 1
Bizarre in so many ways. Im a non-pilot/non-airplane mechanic. Besides the flying for an hour, how was he able to successfully start up both engines in a timely fashion?
Chris B 2
When I first saw ....I didn't believe it....
Peter Steitz 2

Here's a complete audio from the Q-400 accident.
Greg77FA 3
Any such employee with basic understanding of startup and flight could take off in any airplane with intentions far worse than what this mechanic did. Yet we focus on the passengers over eye drops, wheelchair bound, and such.
Jamar Jackson 2
Not the first or last time this will Happen
Correct unfortunately
John Smith 1
An attempt made a couple weeks ago. Fortunately it was stopped.
No offense to the OP here, but Broadcastify is a horrible feed, as they have combined all frequencies into one huge feed, which doesn't work at all for this. Thankfully, LiveATC covers KSEA, and the Approach feed has the entire event covered, from start to finish.
WeatherWise 2
Listened to the entire recording and there is nothing regarding this incident, just normal audio traffic between approach and arriving aircraft. ???
padrooga23 1
Approach feed,for a departing aircraft?
flypilot12 2
PART 147 dictates that you must receive 1800 hour of training in many different aspects of aircraft operation, including engine start up, and taxi procedures. The only thing different from taxi and take-off is airspeed. I myself in the Army was rate to run the APUs in UH-60 Blackhawks, and after there all that is left is a twist of the key and the push of the engine starter, and off you go. I have taxied Cessnas 172s up to Bombardier Global Expresses(the larger usually with a pilot or senior mechanic in the cockpit) but, a lot of the aircraft movement that is done at night after the heaviest traffic is on the ground or left, is done by taxi trained and certified mechanics so the aircraft can be moved under power without a tug. This happens often at my home base KTPA.
Claude Bureau 1
Does say something about the guy who tried to fly it but what do you hear about the Q400? Have you ever been in one? It is good at what it is meant for. Not to be put in the hands of an unexperienced ramper.
Jesse Carroll 1
Who left the keys in the ignition ?
skylab72 1
Q400 has no "ignition keys". If you know what the switches do, and what order will get results (as opposed to causing some sub-system to fail), you can fly away...
I'm not an aviation professional by any means. I'm simply very interested in aviation. However, I would think that some sort of authentication mechanism should be installed and required to get critical systems of a modern day aircraft to startup. For example, I have a laptop I bought 2 years ago that has a fingerprint reader on it. Another example is the iPhone X and the FaceID technology. These aircraft have lots of technology onboard, so I cannot imagine it being too hard to implement.
fredop 1
What I would like to know is where he got the training to know how to start, taxi, and fly the 400. I wouldn't be surprised if he had the PMDG version and the media jumps down there through.

He's had to of had flight training of some sort.
El Kabong 3
PMDG doesn't make a Q400. You're thinking Majestic Software's Q400 which is a study level sim.
John Rumble 2
There it is
Wanna crank up and take off a Q400? Easy
Paul Robbins 1
Karen Punturo 1
linbb 1
Had been taught the basics as to the operation due to his work.
no..ground workers who load and unload aircraft,push back and pull in aircraft do not have access to an aircrafts operating system or cockpit..they cannot "taxi" an airplane..only a mechanic who is certified can do that, and mechanics are not baggage handlers..
The guy told the controller he was a gamer. He learned from playing on his pc. I just looked on the net and there are a bunch of flight simulator games out there. Just ask your kids about it.
WhiteKnight77 1
Between Microsoft's Flight Simulator that they made for 20 years (I believe it was) with FSX being the last and being sold on Steam, with lots of payware aircraft that are pretty detailed and have pilots help with the writing of the manuals for them and getting pics of the cockpits for the panels, to games like DCS which are pretty deep with engine starts and learning to use the weapons systems, there are plenty of flight simulator games out there. I like the MSFS series as well as the iL2: Sturmovik series as well. I have thought about getting some of the DCS World aircraft as well.

Take your pick of what you want. Lockheed Martin has Prepar3D based on FSX and all the mods for FSX will work with it last I heard, and payware developers are making stuff for that.
Gary Johnson 1
Out of curiosity I went to YouTube, found and watched how to start up the Q400 and prepare for flight. Any aviation geek can make notes and fly a sim after watching the video.

Glad no one else was hurt. Will be tough on his family and friends, the feeling something was missed.

"Fair winds and following seas" Peace to Rich
Karen Punturo 1
Thank you for not judging
Jesse Carroll 1
Wonder if he was related to Bob Hoover?
Karen Punturo 1
No relationship.
Edward Bardes 1
I have an idea: design an ignition switch that requires two people to activate. Have two ignition switches on opposite ends of the panel, and both switches must be held down for five seconds before the engines will start.
further reporting on the incident indicates the aircraft ran out of fuel,causing it to crash..also,this young man was not a mechanic,but ground services, or a "ramper",who loaded and unloaded aircraft,cleaned them and drove the tugs or huffs to tow aircraft to and from various spots..he did not have a pilots an employee of the airline,he would have access to aircraft for the purposes of his job..obviously at the time he stole the plane,there were no other people around,and the aircraft was not parked at a gate,but on the tarmac..people don't "suddenly" contemplate is usually already in their minds for whatever also was said he was on the radio frequency for horizon airs ground control,not the tower, and that is who he was communicationg with..sad for his family, but a relief he did not crash into a populated area...
Sea-Tac is a major international airport, how come I’ve heard no audio of his ground movements prior to and during take-off. You don’t just wander around taxiing the aircraft to the active runway, then take-off without some kind of reaction by airport ground and ATC personnel. He obviously knew how to operate the radios, knew that one of the comm’s transmit options had to be selected on the audio panel, knew enough about the Q400 to get it started and to be honest get it airborne “safely”. Did he know enough to state he was VFR hence no formal flight plan, does Horizon ever operate this way? I can’t believe even with some computer flight simulator games a ground grunt without an A&P or private pilots license could file an IFR flight plan and even if he could, wouldn’t Horizon have “canned” flight plans on file for their schedules and if a pop-up trip occurred the flight plan filing would come from the company dispatch office not some random employee of Horizon.
TEB where I’m based has announced, prior to this event, that any mechanic who taxi’s aircraft will have to get training by the airport much like employees who drive on the field receive.
This incident will prompt the typical overreaction that’s become the norm in this country, I fear what the future portends.
Dav5049915 1
Like "The club" for airplanes? :)
alex hidveghy 1
Authorized mechanic taxyi is SOP at most airports. I know because I give that authority when they call me for either relocations or engine runs. It’s regulated.
Tom Novak 1
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

FBI takes over investigation of crashed Horizon Q400

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken charge of the inquiry into a stolen Horizon Air turboprop that crashed on 10 August after a short flight during which the aircraft performed aerobatic-like manoeuvres while pursued by air force fighter jets.
Dale Ballok 1
Apparently he was authorized to tow the plane. Unfortunately he was by himself, which allowed him to take the plane.
Amazing that ATC didn’t see what was going on, as he had to disconnect the tow bar, pull the tug out of the way, board the plane and ready it for flight!
When I worked the ramp, our “tow team” had two people, one tug driver, and one “brake rider” in the cockpit.
Mechanics were certified to taxi planes to and from the hangars. There again, two people, not one.
I believe he purposely put that plane down on that island to keep anyone on the ground from getting hurt or killed.
Amazing but sad story.
there is a good explanation of the event posted in the seattle times august 11th/12th edition with a bit more information than the august 10th editions shown above...
Peter Steitz 1

Here's an audio of the F-15 intercept.
Mark Storm 1
At a busy airport like Sea-Tac on a Friday night how does some kook manage to avoid all the other trafic on the ground and take off from the active runway. I'd hear the ground controllers when this got off the ramp. Amazing
chalet 1
He alledged to have had some sym hours but the way hew flew says to to me that he must have had several hours on small planes and who knows maybe sat on the jump set a of a Q400 and learned how it is flown. Too bad and sad. RIP
bbabis 1
Another part 121 event and again part 91 operators will pay the knee-jerk regulatory price. With mid-term elections coming, this will be an easy 15 minutes of fame for any politician.
Cade foster 1
An Xbox flight simmer....
sparkie624 -1
Another version of the Article:
the maneuvers he put that plane through, the loops, the inversions, are only supposed to be made by, well, the F-16's that were FOLLOWING that plane, NOT a 76-passenger AIRLINER!
sparkie624 1
I guess someone forgot to tell the plane that that.... LOL!
william baker 2
Remember FedEx 705 out of Memphis? When the co poilot Jim tucker roller the plane and put it into a term know as Mach tuck and also did a barber pole in it??
matt jensen 0
Lingering questions as to how the tower did not attempt to stop him. Didn't notify ground or HSE to stop the t/o roll? McChord is right there, but the F15's came from Portland? Sorry for his family - but someone had to know.
Bill Harris 5
McChord is an Air Mobility Command base, hosting several squadrons of C-17s. There'a not a routine fighter or interceptor presence there. The Oregon ANG F-15 squadrons based at PDX are typically the closest source for air cover over Puget Sound.
bhoglan -4
As for why they didn't scramble from JBLM (McChord), that's an AFB, my understanding was that the military is not allowed to act within the borders of the US. The jets that were scrambled were Air National Guard.
matt jensen 2
Sorry not good enough. Tower didn't know who took it. NORAD has responsibility since 2001.
USAF can use whatever means necessary. As I have discovered on my own, McChord is now a Medical facility and Airlift command, no fighters found there or anywhere in the state. Nearest happened to be the National Guard unit at PDX. I've witnessed fighter jets scrambled from Homestead ARS in Florida for intercepts over the Bahamas and the Keys.

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comicpilot 7
Well where else are they suppose to be Captain idiot..? The employee was a ramper and already badged and what not and worked on the ramp for a few years.. The TSA can be annoying but do you expect they of been doing? Gone to speak to a psychic and challenged this guy on the ramp w/o having any clue he was going to do what he did??
I cannot understand why airport security did not shoot out the tires while the plane was taxiing. Ground control knew it was an unauthorized movement. Maybe next time.
Stefan Sobol 3
Like a lot of incidents, it doesn't occur to anyone that someone might actually do something until it happens.

Before last week, anyone who said "We need sharpshooters on duty around the airport to shoot out the tires of planes that are moving, you know, just in case.", would have been laughed out of the room.

A large airport would require dozens of sharpshooters for 24/7 coverage. How do you justify that? What about false alarms and missed shots?
We don't need sharpshooters all over the airport. One in a security car running alongside the plane should do it.
Thomas Mchugh 1
Only time I had security off the side of the aircraft was coming out of Kuwait City on 9/11/2002. We were on board 2 charter L1011 rotating home. Humble off each wing with 50 cal locked and loaded for taxi and take off run. USAF security force length of field. Not sure we want a security vehicle rolling with every aircraft off every field.
WhiteKnight77 3
I don't think you would want to shoot out a plane's tires. They are not inflated in safety cages for shits and grins.
Edward Bardes -1
You'd think we'd have seen the last of the easy hijackings after all these years.
Scott Alan -1
Flying games and flying aluminum are two different things. Evidence... 100% of gamers that have tried it are dead!
Like Han Solo said, “Look, good against remotes is one thing , good against the living, that's something else".
Lee Olson 1
Colton Harris Moore.

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Bryan Nethery -2
Having listened to the choppy recordings of this incident, I have an observation and a question... the ATC audio streams seem to jump within a group of frequencies, presumably based on signal strength and the need to conserve archive storage. Is there an archive of a single frequency other than in the FAA's recordings?
kc0rzw 0
depends how the feed is set up, many use a scanner scanning numerous frequencies, some record a single frequency.
patrick baker -3
what is a scramble going to accomplish other than to be the last line of defense should this non-pilot decide to crash into some structure of value? Many aircraft have a master switch somewhere visible that will provide power to electricals and engine starting, having only a simple door key that locks but is not hard to break through and into the aircraft, usually labled "master" and is colored red for visibility . How much of overreaction is appropriate here?
If you think a scramble is going to wait until the point that a structure of value is at risk before taking action, I think your underestimating the threat to human life this poses. Think about it this way: in similar circumstances that happen on the ground (like rogue trucks around crowds for example) law enforcement officers are authorized to use deadly force to stop the threat to human lives at the first moment that imminent risk of serious injury or death to the public could occur .....why would an event in the air be any different? They take action far sooner then you may think....

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linbb 0
Gee been a while since your last anti US comment Mittal too bad you are back go crawl back into your hole
btweston 3
Don’t they use punctuation in the United States? I think you’re an imposter.
chugheset -8
Alright, I’m sorry but am I the only one that does not believe this “XBOX gamer takes plane for a joyride” story? Maybe if it was a Skyhawk from an uncontrolled airport, but a multi-engine, retractable gear, commercial aircraft from a Class 1 airport? No way.

Consider this: He had to remove the wheel chocks, pitot covers, etc., start the APU and engines without being noticed. Then he has to navigate to the runway through a maze of taxiways filled with Friday night traffic.

Then he has to figure out how to take off, retract the landing gear, change the pitch of the props and navigate to his destination while avoiding other traffic. THEN, he does aerobatics while talking on the radio to the controllers.

Come on. Really?Not sure where the conspiracy is on this one, but it’s there.
Karen Punturo 2
I am his mother. He had no training at all. But he was as smart as they come.
John Rumble 1
Don't have a flight sim do you?
It wasn't xbox but probably P3D or Xplane where the flight dynamics are modeled after the real thing

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linbb 0
And followed by another anti US comment thanks for playing troll.
linbb -1
Oh forgot one thing there is a list of passenger AC stolen most were NOT AMERICAN so go play your anti USA thing somewhere else and by the way go live there too.
btweston -1
Your rants will have much more impact if you try not to write like a seven year old.
Mike Hartner -1
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Trump ‘monitoring’: ‘Suicidal’ Airline Employee Allegedly Steals Plane, Takes Off, Then Crashes

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the man who stole a plane from Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle before crashing it into a small, nearby island.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday morning Trump is monitoring the situation. He’s currently at his New Jersey golf club. She commended the response effort for its “swift action” and public safety protection.
John Morgan -1
I'm curious. Does the Q400's FDR and CVR activation to begin recording require a manual switch being thrown and do they automatically begin operation with engine start up? Thanks!
Edward Bardes 1
The CVR and FDR are always running as long as the battery is running.
WhiteKnight77 1
For starting up a CH-46E years ago, you set specific circuit breakers, others were always left on. You then flipped the battery switch on. Ensured that there was enough hydraulic pressure in the accumulator and flipped the button on the APP. Once that was running, you had electrical and hydraulic power to start the engines. I didn't even need a checklist to get to check the igniters, one more detent on the throttle quadrant and I would go to main engine start (crew chiefs were not allowed to do such).

The power from the APP also allowed to check the flight controls etc. If the hoist was needed, it could be tested with that power as well (hydraulic). I have never seen a key or other security device to stop a bird from being started.
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

Horizon Air Q400 Audio

Recording of radio traffic with Horizon Air Q400 interspersed with other SEATAC radio traffic.
ben bearup 0
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

BREAKING: Horizon Air Q400 Stolen; Crashes near Seattle

Airways Magazine is following reports of an Alaska Airlines Q400 that has been stolen and has crashed in the greater Seattle area.


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