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How can one steal a plane?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by SlugSlinger, Aug 11, 2018.

  1. SlugSlinger

    SlugSlinger Sharpshooter

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    Authorities probe how airline employee could steal plane
    OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Investigators worked to find out how an airline employee stole an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane, took off from Sea-Tac International Airport and crashed into a small island in the Puget Sound after being chased by military jets that were quickly scrambled to intercept the aircraft.

    The bizarre incident involving a worker authorities said was suicidal points to one of the biggest potential perils for commercial air travel — airline or airport employees causing mayhem.

    “The greatest threat we have to aviation is the insider threat,” Erroll Southers, a former FBI agent and transportation security expert, told The Associated Press. “Here we have an employee who was vetted to the level to have access to the aircraft and had a skill set proficient enough to take off with that plane.”

    The Friday night crash happened because the 29-year-old man was “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said. The man, who was believed killed, wasn’t immediately identified.

    There was no connection to terrorism, Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, said.

    Video showed the Horizon Air Q400 doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers as the sun set on Puget Sound. There were no passengers aboard.

    Authorities initially said the man was a mechanic, but Alaska Airlines later said he was believed to be a ground service agent employed by Horizon. Those employees direct aircraft for takeoff and gate approach and de-ice planes.

    Southers, the aviation security expert, said the man could have caused mass destruction. “If he had the skill set to do loops with a plane like this, he certainly had the capacity to fly it into a building and kill people on the ground.,” he said.

    The plane was pursued by military aircraft before it crashed on tiny Ketron Island, southwest of Tacoma, Washington. Video showed fiery flames amid trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry. No structures on the ground were damaged, Alaska Airlines said.

    Troyer said F-15 aircraft took off out of Portland, Oregon, were in the air “within a few minutes,” and the pilots kept “people on the ground safe.”

    Sheriff’s department officials said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the Pierce County resident.

    The aircraft was stolen about 8 p.m. Alaska Airlines said it was in a “maintenance position” and not scheduled for a passenger flight. Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West. The Q400 is a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.

    Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man “did something foolish and may well have paid with his life.”

    The man could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is “just a broken guy.” An air traffic controller called the man “Rich,” and tried to convince the man to land the airplane.

    “There is a runway just off to your right side in about a mile,” the controller says, referring to an airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

    “Oh man. Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there,” the man responded, later adding “This is probably jail time for life, huh?”

    Later the man said: “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this ... Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess.”

    Flights out of Sea-Tac, the largest commercial airport in the Pacific Northwest, were temporarily grounded during the drama.

    The plane crashed in a heavily wooded area of thick underbrush on the island, according to Debra Eckrote, the Western Pacific regional chief for the National Transportation Safety Board. The crash sparked a 2-acre wilfire.

    “It is highly fragmented,” she said of the plane. “The wings are off, the fuselage is, I think, kind of positioned upside down.”

    The FBI is looking into the man’s background and try to determine his motive, she said. Investigators are trying to find how he got on the plane.

    “He’s ground support so they have access to aircrafts,” she said of the man.

    Investigators expect they will be able to recover both the cockpit voice recorder and the event data recorder from the plane.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday morning that President Donald Trump is “monitoring the situation.”

    Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement early Saturday morning that the airline was “working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened.”

    The airline was coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board, he said.

    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 said he didn’t see the crash but saw smoke.

    “It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie,” he told the newspaper.

    Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and Oregon for scrambling jets and said in a statement “there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight’s tragic incident.“”

    “The responding fighter pilots flew alongside the aircraft and were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us, but in the end the man flying the stolen plane crashed,” Inslee said.
     
  2. SlugSlinger

    SlugSlinger Sharpshooter

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    Suicidal' airline employee who stole plane from SeaTac Airport had bizarre conversation with air traffic control before crashing
    Kathleen Joyce4 hours ago
    [​IMG]
    Video


    The unidentified “suicidal” airport employee who stole an empty plane before taking off from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) on Friday had a dramatic conversation with air traffic controllers as the incident unfolded.

    The unidentified pilot was addressed as “Rich” and “Richard” by air traffic controllers, a live air-traffic control feed showed, as obtained by the Seattle Times. “Rich” sounded upbeat and excited in the conversation while air traffic controllers sounded calm. In one of the snippets of the conversation, “Rich” was heard talking about fuel and how he wanted to “go check out the Olympics.”

    The air traffic controllers were heard asking the pilot if he knew his altitude. “Rich” said he was unsure what that meant but said he was on autopilot. The air traffic controllers told him in another snippet that they’re trying to keep him safe because other aircraft land at Sea-Tac.

    PLANE CRASHES AFTER ‘UNAUTHORIZED TAKE-OFF’ FROM SEATAC AIRPORT, OFFICIALS SAY

    “Oh okay, yeah, I don’t want to screw with that. I’m glad you’re not screwing up everyone else’s day on account of me,” the airport employee replied.

    “Richard” told the air traffic controllers that he had 2,100 pounds of fuel and was surprised by how quickly it “burned out.”

    This is probably jail time for life, huh? I would hope it is for a guy like me

    - 'Rich', the pilot
    “Yeah, I don’t know what the burn out is like on a takeoff but yeah it’s burned quite a bit faster than I expected,” he said.

    In a different clip, the controller and “Rich” discussed where to land.

    “There is the runway just off to your right side in about a mile,” the controller said. “That’s McChord.” [referring to the military airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord].

    “Oh man!” “Richard” replied back loudly. “Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there. I think I might mess something up there too. I wouldn’t want to do that. Oh! They probably have anti-aircraft!”

    “No, they don’t have any of that stuff. We’re just trying to find a place for you to land safely,” the controller replied.

    However, “Rich” said he wasn’t ready to land just yet.

    “I’m not quite ready to bring it down just yet, but holy smokes, I got to stop looking at the fuel, because it’s going down quick,” he said.

    The controller then asks “Rich” if he could make a left-hand turn but the pilot had other thoughts.

    “This is probably jail time for life, huh?” “Rich” said. “I would hope it is for a guy like me.”

    “Oh, Richard,” the controller said. “We’re not going to worry or think about that. But could you start a left-hand turn please?”

    In another clip, “Rich” asked the controllers if they thought he would get a job as a pilot if he landed successfully.

    “You know, I think they’ll give you a job doing anything if you can pull this off,” the controller replied.

    The employee replied, “Yeah, right! [Inaudible] I’m a white guy [inaudible].”

    At another time during the incident, “Rich” seemed to express regrets and wanted to apologize to the people who cared about him.

    “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me,” “Richard” said. “It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it, until now.”

    [​IMG]
    The plane was witnessed flying over homes on August 10, 2018. (Courtney Junka via AP )

    Before the crash, “Richard” was heard saying he felt one of the engines was “going out or something.”

    “OK, Rich,” the controller said. “If you could, you just want to keep that plane right over the water. Keep the aircraft nice and low.”

    INVESTIGATORS FIND AMMO, DIRTY DIAPERS AT SQUALID ‘EXTREMIST MUSLIM’ COMPOUND IN NEW MEXICO

    The empty Horizon Air turboprop plane crashed on Ketron Island, southwest of Tacoma, Washington. The 29-year-old man, who was believed killed in the crash, had no connection to terrorism. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the Pierce County resident.

    Some unconfirmed reports on social media said the suspect was believed to have been an airline mechanic. Alaska Airlines later said he was an employee who helped direct aircraft to gates and de-ice planes. Horizon is a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines.

    The crash of the Q400 -- described as a 76-seat aircraft designed for short trips -- occurred because the pilot was "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills," the sheriff's department said.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday morning that President Donald Trump is "monitoring the situation." He's currently at his New Jersey golf club.
     
  3. rlongnt

    rlongnt Sharpshooter

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    It's so easy I believe the only reason we haven't been attacked that way is because nobody wanted to.
     
  4. adamsredlines

    adamsredlines Sharpshooter

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    I dont think it would be super hard to do. Bizarre story nonetheless.
     
  5. Fyrtwuck

    Fyrtwuck Sharpshooter

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    They do it all the time on the TV show Airplane Repo.
     
  6. ConstitutionCowboy

    ConstitutionCowboy Sharpshooter

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    Some small aircraft now have keys for the "mag switch" which is similar to the ignition switch on a car. Other aircraft sometimes have a lock on the door.

    Aircraft designer Ted Smith designed the Aero Commander and the Aerostar to use the same door key. I used to have one of those keys on my key chain for convenience. I had customers who had Aero Commanders and a customer who had an Aerostar. I don't know, but I'd be willing to bet the other aircraft he designed used the same door key as well.

    It would be easier to steal a large, more 'complicated' airplane that couldn't use and didn't have a simple 'key start' ignition switch. First turn on the master switch, engage the starter to begin spooling up the turbine(s) and energize the ignition, when a certain RPM is reached, the fuel is introduced which ignites, and when "idle speed" is reached, the starter is disengaged. Viola!

    Woody
     
  7. killerpigeon

    killerpigeon Sharpshooter

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    Do it everyday in GTA5.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
     
  8. John6185

    John6185 Sharpshooter

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    Some decades ago a crew chief on a C-130 managed to take off from a base in England solo and there was some discussion how he managed to pilot the aircraft because it takes more than a pilot (electronics, navigation etc.) He had some experience running up the engines and taxiing in on the pad. Anyway, the story is that he wanted to go back to Virginia. He took off and was over the Atlantic and they scrambled some military jets and they shot him down.
    It was a fairly big story during the Vietnam era, maybe some of you vets on here remember?
    I worked at the OKC VA Hospital some years back and a new employee came in and he said he was a pilot stationed in England. I related the story to him and he remembered, he said, " shot him down." Whether he did or not, the theft of the 130 is true. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...FjAAegQICRAB&usg=AOvVaw0Mc-KlN-zKD-lYYaAURtbl
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2018
  9. rlongnt

    rlongnt Sharpshooter

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    The ignition on light aircraft that do have keys is usually no more sophisticated than a John Deere lawnmower.

    Half the flight schools out there leave the key hanging on one of the gauges. The rest on a clipboard named with the N number in a publicly accessible FBO

    Folks, I hate to break it to you but there is no such thing as security. We have a false sense of security at best.
     
  10. cowzrul

    cowzrul Distinguished 1998

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    I was right across the street in SeaTac last night. Crazy how he could have flown into my hotel.
     
    MacFromOK and D. Hargrove like this.

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