Alaska Airlines lost one of its planes when it was stolen from Seattle by an employee who was engaged in maintenance activities and was not authorized to fly planes. It was an empty 76-seater Horizon Air turboprop Q400 and the man has been identified as Rich, probably an abbreviation of Richard. That is how the air traffic controllers referred to him during communication.

Daily Mail UK reports that Rich is a 29-year-old who was born in Key West, Florida and moved to Alaska as a child. He married in 2010 and went into a bakery business but it failed to click.

The couple then moved to Seattle in 2015 where he took up a job in an airline. He hoped to work in a management position. He also dreamt of becoming an officer in the military. However, nothing was happening. That could have probably been preying on his mind, and he went into depression harboring suicidal thoughts.

Theft of Alaska Airlines plane led to a scare

Loss of any plane is a matter of concern for the authorities and this one, involving an Alaska Airlines plane, was no exception. Pierce County Sheriff's Office informed that F-15 fighter jets were scrambled from Portland to intercept it.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said that President Donald Trump had been apprised about the situation. Sheriff Paul Pastor has confirmed that this was not any terrorist related activity. He described it as “a joyride gone terribly wrong. The man did something foolish and may well have paid with his life”.

Air traffic controllers at Seattle-Tacoma Airport had been in conversation with Rich for nearly 20 minutes to persuade him to abandon his plans.

However, the 76-seater plane finally ended up in a ball of fire in Ketron Island which is a densely wooded area inhabited by very few people. There is no report of any casualty.

Record of conversation could be useful

According to Sky News, the staff of the air traffic control at Seattle and Rich, who was piloting the Alaska Airlines plane, has been released.

That could provide an insight into the mental condition of the young man who chose to end his life the way he did. It seems he has told the ATC that he was "just a broken guy".

Witnesses have captured the action on videos as it was performing different maneuvers in the air before plummeting into the ground in Ketron Island. The sheriff's office believes that the crash was a result of “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills". There is no information about whether the man knew how to fly a plane. Of course, he had handled the plane like someone who knows the intricacies of flying a transport plane like a 76-seater Horizon Air turboprop Q400.