Grand Theft - Airplane


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.

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.

I read through the audio transcript. Very sad. Air traffic controller did a good job. Just a heart-wrenching mess.

The brief audio clip made him sound lucid. Sad.

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.

VASAviation on Youtube has a lot more audio:
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.

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.

Pretty sweet barrel-roll!

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.

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.

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.

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.

The black box should provide some interesting data.

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.

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.

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. :wink:

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.

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.

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.