FBI: Man who stole and crashed commercial airplane acted alone

The airline worker who stole a passenger plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in August and died ...

Posted: Nov 10, 2018 7:34 AM
Updated: Nov 10, 2018 7:34 AM

The airline worker who stole a passenger plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in August and died after crashing it did so intentionally and acted alone, according to an FBI investigation into the incident released Friday.

Richard Russell, who had a wide-ranging discussion with air traffic control while flying the plane he had stolen, piloted the aircraft into a "final decent to the ground" that was intentional according to the FBI. He did not have any assistance during the incident, the investigation found.

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"If the pilot had wanted to avoid impact with the ground, he had time and energy to pull the column back, raise the nose, and initiate a climb," the report said.

"Extensive investigative activity failed to reveal any additional subject(s) involved in the planning or execution of the unauthorized flight," it said.

Russell, a 28-year-old baggage handler for Horizon Air, stole an empty passenger plane that was parked in a maintenance area and was not scheduled for flight.

After taking off, he told air traffic control he was "just a broken guy."

"I've got a lot of people that care about me, and it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this," Russell says. "I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it until now."

The FBI said in a statement that it will not pursue charges over the incident "given the death of Russell and his lack of co- conspirators."

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