Russell, 29, worked for Horizon Air's ground crew as a member of the tow team, Christenson said.
An empty Bombardier Q400 was stolen by a Horizon Air Mechanic between 8:30 PM and 8:45 PM from a cargo ramp stand in Seattle.
It is believed that he was a mechanic who took the plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
A former airline colleague of Russell described him as a "quiet guy". "I'm down to 2,100 (pounds)", he is heard saying.
Then later he began to worry about his fuel.
An air traffic controller called him "Rich", and tried to convince him to land the airplane.
Warning: some might find the following audio disturbing. "That's McChord" (meaning the military airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord). "I'm glad you're not, you know, screwing up everyone else's day on account of me". They attempted to divert the aircraft toward the Pacific Ocean while maintaining radio communication with controllers and Russell.
"They don't have any of that stuff", the air-traffic controller assures him. "So, I started to capture video, just because I thought it was kind of freakish", he toldCNN. "I would hope it is for a guy like me".
In a recording posted to Broadcastify, the pilot can be heard calmly chatting with Air Traffic Control.
His final words were: "This is jail time for life, huh?"
"Oh, Richard", said the controller, "We're not going to worry or think about that". "A couple of the turns, it looked like what we call in basic flight training a 'coordinated turn, ' meaning that he not only used the yoke ... but you also coordinate with the rudders and you do the turns". "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this".
One witness filmed the plane doing a large loop-the-loop, which they first thought was part of an air show rehearsal.
While in the air, Russell joked for almost 20 minutes with the air traffic control agent, but admitted he had "a few screws loose" and called himself "just a broken guy". "Never knew it, until now".
"I feel like one of my engines is going out or something", Rich says.
The pilot, identified as "Rich", comes across as excitable, confused, and even apologetic in a conversation with the control tower.
After take-off he performed at least one dramatic roll, pulling the aircraft up just metres from the water before gaining altitude again.
"We saw the jets circle back after and she texted that there was no plane", she added.
Royal King told The Seattle Times he was photographing a wedding when he saw the low-flying turboprop being chased by two F-15s. He was a faithful husband, a loving son, and a good friend. "This is a tragedy", he said. Russell "had access legitimately" to the plane, said Mike Ehl, director of aviation operations at the airport in the northwestern USA state of Washington, adding that "no security violations were committed".
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