A plane crashed Friday evening after a Horizon Air employee conducted an “unauthorized take-off” from Sea-Tac International Airport.
The aircraft crashed on Ketron Island in south Puget Sound shortly after 8:45 p.m. Alaska Airlines said that a Horizon Air Q400 was involved in the incident.
The employee was a 29-year-old Pierce County resident, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. The department believes he acted alone.
No other passengers were onboard the aircraft.
While the plane was still in the air, two F-15 fighter jets took off from Portland, Oregon. In audio recordings, the pilots can be heard trying to point the man to the airfield at Joint-Base Louis McCord.
“We’re just trying to find a place for you to land safely,” one pilot said.
The plane “was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said in a tweet.
Around 8:15 p.m., multiple KING 5 viewers called to report a stolen airplane, saying an apparent pilot or airport worker took off with an aircraft.
A number of viewers called KING 5 after witnessing the plane crash on Ketron Island. A large plume of smoke was visible to residents surrounding Steilacoom, Washington.
Apparently someone stole a plane from SeaTac? Saw two fighter jets fly overhead then smoke pic.twitter.com/w0bveGUJQH
– McKenna Brown (@mckenna_brown) August 11, 2018
Sea-Tac Airport was put on an immediate ground stop once the plane took off. The airport said operations have since returned to normal.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been notified of the situation.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.