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Old 08-11-2018, 12:23 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Grand Theft - Airplane

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A suicidal 29-year-old Pierce County man stole a Horizon Air Bombardier Q-400 from Sea-Tac airport, and crashed it on an island in south Puget Sound.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:44 AM
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I'm south of SeaTac and they're certainly catching up on the backlogged flights!

I heard audio of the pilot's conversations with air traffic control and they're very sad. Definitely mental issues.
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:12 AM
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I read through the audio transcript. Very sad. Air traffic controller did a good job. Just a heart-wrenching mess.
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Old 08-11-2018, 01:57 AM
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The brief audio clip made him sound lucid. Sad.
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:54 AM
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That's only three or four miles from where I grew up. I remember catching a salmon just north of Ketron Island once. It's always kinda weird seeing your old neighborhood on the news.

Not that they'll see this, but my thoughts go out to all his family and friends. Could easily have been a lot worse.
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Old 08-11-2018, 09:29 AM
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The brief audio clip made him sound lucid. Sad.
VASAviation on Youtube has a lot more audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LLmF9tZoEE
He is definitely not all there.
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:55 AM
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VASAviation on Youtube has a lot more audio: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LLmF9tZoEE
He is definitely not all there.
He still sounded lucid enough to respond to the controller as well as fly the plane. This is not to be confused with having a screw loose but he had the capacity to reason on some level. He was aware of the fuel level and was able to perform aerobatic maneuvers in a plane that wasn't built for it. He was aware enough of his surroundings to not want to hurt people.
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:58 AM
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I listened to this last night as it was evolving, and once we were past the part where we might have been worried that he intended to crash it in a crowded place, he struck me as a slightly disturbed, moderately scared young man who hadn't actually expected to be up in the air like that. Once he was up, he sounded kind of like he felt trapped.
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:13 AM
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Pretty sweet barrel-roll!
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:45 AM
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I wonder where & how he learned the start procedures, how to taxi & get to the current take off point on the current runway, set & listen to all the correct radio frequency's that he would need so as to not be stopped by and airport vehicle before he could taker off? Lots of people got some
"Splain-in to do Lucy."

To have learned it all from home available sims and translate it into aerobatics in
THAT airplane and not tear it apart in the air is an interesting question IMO.

If he did do it that way, he was plenty smart and a natural pilot.

I think there is much more to the story.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:16 PM
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It was a barrel roll so it wasn't a stressful maneuver and something he could practice on a flight sim. He had to have some working knowledge of the plane to start it and monitor altitude, speed, and fuel loads.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:17 PM
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He was a mechanic, so he knew quite a bit about how to operate an aircraft in terms of the technical details. If you listen to the recording, he wasn't sure he was going to get through the maneuvers, so he wasn't a capable pilot at all. He was trying to kill himself with the hijinks.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:28 PM
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It was a barrel roll so it wasn't a stressful maneuver and something he could practice on a flight sim. He had to have some working knowledge of the plane to start it and monitor altitude, speed, and fuel loads.
The video I saw showed him attempting an aileron roll, and then going into a dive like the bottom part of a loop. There was little altitude when he pulled out of it. It could have been telephoto distortion, but it looked like a pretty heavy pull.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:17 PM
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The black box should provide some interesting data.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:02 PM
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Plane Mechanics in WWII had an opportunity to become pilots.

Chuck Yeager got his start that way. A flying Sergeant in a world of officer pilots.

I agree this guy must have used flight sims at home. He did pretty good with the real thing until he attempted landing.

I wish he had sought help for his depression.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-11-2018 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:35 PM
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I agree this guy must have used flight sims at home. He did pretty good with the real thing until he attempted landing.
Did he try to land, though? There are three long runways within a few miles of where he crashed. Two are military, but he'd have been in trouble wherever he landed.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:51 PM
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The air controller tried to direct him to land on a military strip. He rejected that because of their reaction. He knew they would be pretty aggressive.

He mentioned being low on fuel several times. I'm not sure if he attempted landing.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-11-2018 at 03:52 PM.
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:14 PM
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Did he try to land, though? There are three long runways within a few miles of where he crashed. Two are military, but he'd have been in trouble wherever he landed.
Agreed.

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The air controller tried to direct him to land on a military strip. He rejected that because of their reaction. He knew they would be pretty aggressive.

He mentioned being low on fuel several times. I'm not sure if he attempted landing.
To my knowledge, he did not attempt landing.

Ace, speaking for myself, I'm not seeing anything amusing in the situation.
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:24 PM
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I wasn't laughing at the mechanic's situation.
His death was preventable if he had sought early treatment for depression.

I was being sarcastic at the military response. There would have been a shit storm swirling around that plane after it landed. The military never does anything half way. They already had F-15's in the air.

Read the transcript, the mechanic mentions the welcome waiting for him at a military base.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-11-2018 at 04:28 PM.
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Old 08-11-2018, 04:56 PM
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If he was an engineer rated for that aircraft type then he’d be used to starting it and operating all of its controls. It’s not a stretch to go from that to taxiing and taking off.
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:16 PM
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Turns out he was ground crew:

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The suspect worked for Horizon Air for three and a half years, handling the baggage, cleaning the plane, and was 'tow certified,' allowing him to run the little tractors that pull the planes. He went through a 10-year background check to get the job.
There's more coverage at this local news site, too:

https://komonews.com/news/local/stol...seatac-airport

If anyone sees info about his flight path from SeaTac, please post. I'm just curious. Ketron Island is straight south from the airport, but I heard reports of sightings inland. He must've made a left turn east, then veered west at some point. He never went over my house (about ten miles south of the airport).
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:20 PM
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The air controller tried to direct him to land on a military strip. He rejected that because of their reaction. He knew they would be pretty aggressive.

He mentioned being low on fuel several times. I'm not sure if he attempted landing.
Tacoma Narrows Airport is within about ten miles of where he crashed. According to the figures I could find, the runway there is long enough for a Q400, but not by a lot. With a novice pilot that would probably be asking for trouble. It's civilian, at least. What direction was he going when he crashed? If it was north, maybe he was trying to line up for a landing there.

Tacoma Narrows is where I got my license. Haven't been by there in ages, though.
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:48 PM
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I wonder where & how he learned the start procedures, how to taxi & get to the current take off point on the current runway, set & listen to all the correct radio frequency's that he would need so as to not be stopped by and airport vehicle before he could taker off? Lots of people got some
"Splain-in to do Lucy."

To have learned it all from home available sims and translate it into aerobatics in
THAT airplane and not tear it apart in the air is an interesting question IMO.
All of that information is there in the world and accessible to someone who really wants to learn it, and is sufficiently motivated to self-study.

Pilot handbooks/user manuals aren't that hard to get ahold of. I used to routinely get a new one every time I tried out a new airplane (about twice a year on average when I was still an active pilot)

Information frequencies, taxi information and the like are published routinely and easily available because you want pilots to have easy access to such information. There are tons of on-line articles about radio procedures you can use for self-study.

Most flight simulators these days have options to set real weather, real airports and their procedures, simulated ATC, and aircraft parameters. Heck, I was doing that on my home PC back in the last 1990's while learning to fly.

It's cliche... but it's not rocket science. (At least not until you get to jets. This one was a turbo-prop.)

Quote:
If he did do it that way, he was plenty smart and a natural pilot.
Or disciplined about self-study.

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I think there is much more to the story.
Undoubtedly.
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Old 08-11-2018, 05:58 PM
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I wonder where & how he learned the start procedures, how to taxi & get to the current take off point on the current runway, set & listen to all the correct radio frequency's that he would need so as to not be stopped by and airport vehicle before he could taker off? Lots of people got some
"Splain-in to do Lucy."

To have learned it all from home available sims and translate it into aerobatics in
THAT airplane and not tear it apart in the air is an interesting question IMO.

If he did do it that way, he was plenty smart and a natural pilot.

I think there is much more to the story.
Amen to the last sentence. I strongly suspect that even though there's no evidence that he was a licensed pilot, he had at least a few flying lessons somewhere along the way.

I also wouldn't be surprised if he booby-trapped his home, like the Colorado theater shooter did.

p.s. Does anyone else remember when a teenage boy stole an airplane not all that long after 9/11, and crashed the plane into a building? IIRC, it was on a weekend so the building was mostly unoccupied, and damage was relatively minimal because it was a puddle-jumper.

Last edited by nearwildheaven; 08-11-2018 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:06 PM
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More detailed audio. I admire the persistence and affability of the guys who were trying to cajole him to come down. It's not something you can train much for.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=X50N4Y...ature=youtu.be
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:18 PM
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I was being sarcastic at the military response. There would have been a shit storm swirling around that plane after it landed. The military never does anything half way. They already had F-15's in the air.
Isn't scrambling fighters whenever there is a possible hijacking or suspicion of one SOP since 9/11? I was glad to see them up there myself.
And no matter how bad off the poor guy was, let's give him credit for doing this by himself and not with a plane full of passengers like the guy in Germany.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:23 PM
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Isn't scrambling fighters whenever there is a possible hijacking or suspicion of one SOP since 9/11? I was glad to see them up there myself.
If you fly out of Portland, you'll see these guys training. They take it seriously.
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Old 08-11-2018, 07:39 PM
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Makes me wonder what would have happened if he landed the thing.
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:39 PM
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If you fly out of Portland, you'll see these guys training. They take it seriously.
I've seen them while flying my plane near Klamath Falls. Last time ATC called me up and said a pair of F-15s at 600kts was going to be passing me on the left and they had me in sight. It was just enough time to snap a picture.
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Old 08-11-2018, 10:59 PM
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What direction was he going when he crashed? If it was north, maybe he was trying to line up for a landing there.
He was going south. He did a barrel roll over Chambers Bay then flew south to Ketron.
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:35 PM
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A Classic Suicide.
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:10 AM
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The video I saw showed him attempting an aileron roll, and then going into a dive like the bottom part of a loop. There was little altitude when he pulled out of it. It could have been telephoto distortion, but it looked like a pretty heavy pull.
Depth perception this that video is tricky, but if I had to give a name to to what he did, Id say he tried for an aileron roll end ended up with a split s.
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Old 08-12-2018, 01:49 AM
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Depth perception this that video is tricky, but if I had to give a name to to what he did, Id say he tried for an aileron roll end ended up with a split s.
I agree. He has tried a roll but hasnt got the nose anywhere near high enough to begin with. During the roll the nose has dropped and hes ended up in a steep dive about 3/4 the way through at which point he seems to have decided to just pull rather than continue rolling.
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Old 08-12-2018, 09:42 AM
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Id say he tried for an aileron roll end ended up with a split s.
I agree.
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Old 08-12-2018, 09:56 AM
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The press is trying to turn this story into something of greater significance than it is. It was a dramatic suicide, maybe starting out as just a lark by someone with some kind of problem, but clearly he intended no harm to others. I wish he hadn't done it, don't want to encourage it, but grudgingly have to tip my hat to a guy who went out with style.
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:29 AM
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Long article on Richard Russell. He seemed like a normal guy. Well traveled, wife and loving family.

There's no indication that he'd do something like this.

I can only guess the joyride was done on impulse. Then everything quickly spiraled out of control. He had committed a serious crime and the situation seemed hopeless. That's just my conjecture. I'm not convinced this started as a suicide plan.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...d-Russell.html

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-12-2018 at 11:33 AM.
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:59 AM
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We'll just have to agree to disagree Ace.
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:22 PM
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Well, Richard did reject any attempt to land.

The joyride ended in a suicide as he attempted air stunts that a novice could never complete.

Only he knew his original intentions at the beginning.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-12-2018 at 12:23 PM.
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Old 08-12-2018, 12:50 PM
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Long article on Richard Russell. He seemed like a normal guy. Well traveled, wife and loving family.

There's no indication that he'd do something like this.

I can only guess the joyride was done on impulse. Then everything quickly spiraled out of control. He had committed a serious crime and the situation seemed hopeless. That's just my conjecture. I'm not convinced this started as a suicide plan.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...d-Russell.html
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Originally Posted by from the article
Nowhere in the job description does it mention that ground service agents are permitted to fly planes.
Well of course it fucking doesn't.
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Old 08-12-2018, 01:32 PM
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He said he didn't plan on landing, which does suggest he was suicidal. He seems like a good guy. He may have done us a favor exposing how easy it is to steal a plane with that job. Imagine if he'd wanted to hurt people.

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Old 08-12-2018, 03:18 PM
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Well, what are you going to do? Forbid baggage handlers and cleaning staff from approaching an airplane?

Seriously - it's necessary that people do stuff to/around/on airplanes as part of the process of the maintaining them, servicing them, cleaning them, and so forth. The two things that stop people from stealing airplanes (more often) is that 1) most people don't realize how easy it would be to do in some cases and 2) most people don't want to steal airplanes. It's really a rare impulse.
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Old 08-12-2018, 03:47 PM
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Well, what are you going to do? Forbid baggage handlers and cleaning staff from approaching an airplane?

Seriously - it's necessary that people do stuff to/around/on airplanes as part of the process of the maintaining them, servicing them, cleaning them, and so forth. The two things that stop people from stealing airplanes (more often) is that 1) most people don't realize how easy it would be to do in some cases and 2) most people don't want to steal airplanes. It's really a rare impulse.
Maybe it's an issue with airplane design, specifically with what's necessary to power one up (and then fly it). It shouldn't be as simple as pushing a button, or whatever it was that allowed the guy to start it up and take off.

A key? A code that must be punched in? Something.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:37 PM
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Maybe it's an issue with airplane design, specifically with what's necessary to power one up (and then fly it). It shouldn't be as simple as pushing a button, or whatever it was that allowed the guy to start it up and take off.

A key? A code that must be punched in? Something.
It should be as simple as possible. I'm a pilot. When I go to work I have to start four engines four times each throughout the day. It already takes about three minutes to start four engines. When I'm given 30 minutes to turn the aircraft around and 10% of that turn around time is just starting engines, the last thing I want is for it to be more difficult.

That he flew it isn't really the point. The point is that he had access to it and wasn't mentally stable. If he couldn't fly it, who's to say he wouldn't have sabotaged it somehow?

My general opinion on extremely rare events like this is that we don't need to change anything. Do an investigation, see if there were any signs that were ignored or missed, but if that all comes up ok then we need to accept that we can't have perfect defences against every eventuality. Sometimes shit happens. Sometimes people break and there is no reasonable way to foresee it happening. The last thing we should do is make it difficult to operate the plane. It's where people work, their day to day office. We already have to put up with a bunch of crap every single day, just because one person, out of billions, did something stupid, once.

Unfortunately the public will want "something to be done!", and those in charge will want to appear to have done something, so some pointless new piece of bureaucracy will be put in place that will have zero effect on the actual problem. Normal people's lives will be inconvenienced a little more on a daily basis, and because the problem event was so rare in the first place, it won't happen again and the public will be appeased.

This is how our lives are gradually being reduced to needlessly jumping through ever increasing numbers of hoops just to get through a normal day.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:40 PM
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Pretty sweet barrel-roll!
And yet every story I've read has described him doing 'loop-the-loops' *twitches*

Unless of course he really did do that but I haven't seen any footage of them.

Last edited by Atomic Alex; 08-12-2018 at 04:41 PM.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:53 PM
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Isn't scrambling fighters whenever there is a possible hijacking or suspicion of one SOP since 9/11? I was glad to see them up there myself.
And no matter how bad off the poor guy was, let's give him credit for doing this by himself and not with a plane full of passengers like the guy in Germany.
A Redditor from the r/Portland subreddit was out at the airport and took an impressive pic of one of the F-15s scrambling to address the situation. There were multiple reports of sonic booms as the planes went hypersonic and it took them about ten minutes to cover the distance from PDX to Seattle. Pretty impressive. And yes, it's fully armed with missiles and the like.

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Old 08-12-2018, 05:01 PM
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Makes me wonder what would have happened if he landed the thing.
He did land it. And it blew up in the process.

BTW, The Daily Mail is little more reliable than a supermarket tabloid.
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Old 08-12-2018, 05:38 PM
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Maybe it's an issue with airplane design, specifically with what's necessary to power one up (and then fly it). It shouldn't be as simple as pushing a button, or whatever it was that allowed the guy to start it up and take off.

A key? A code that must be punched in? Something.
So... when a jet engine flames out in flight, do you want something the pilot can re-start quickly and simply, or do you want an elaborate song-and-dance with keys and codes?

Let me help you with that: although it's uncommon, having to re-start an engine in flight happens a LOT more often than someone stealing an airplane.

We are approaching a point where increased security could become hazardous.

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Old 08-12-2018, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Richard Pearse View Post
... That he flew it isn't really the point. The point is that he had access to it and wasn't mentally stable. If he couldn't fly it, who's to say he wouldn't have sabotaged it somehow? ...
That is certainly an inarguable point.
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  #49  
Old 08-12-2018, 07:12 PM
carnivorousplant carnivorousplant is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
So... when a jet engine flames out in flight, do you want something the pilot can re-start quickly and simply, or do you want an elaborate song-and-dance with keys and codes?
Hear her!
  #50  
Old 08-12-2018, 09:43 PM
Magiver Magiver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmartAleq View Post
A Redditor from the r/Portland subreddit was out at the airport and took an impressive pic of one of the F-15s scrambling to address the situation. There were multiple reports of sonic booms as the planes went hypersonic and it took them about ten minutes to cover the distance from PDX to Seattle. Pretty impressive. And yes, it's fully armed with missiles and the like.
I would be impressed if an F-15 went hypersonic. A bit of a nit pic but that's something like mach 5. Still, the first and only time I heard a sonic boom was on 9/11.
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