A passenger plane crashed on an island in Puget Sound on Friday night, not long after a suspect conducted an "unauthorized take-off" from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state, officials said.
Naturally, the errant plane disrupted air traffic control - but it also scared observers who had no idea what the aircraft was doing.
There was no indication that the incident was an act of terror, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department said on Twitter.
John Waldron, who took dramatic video of the stolen plane flying in a loop, told CNN that he was out for an evening stroll when he saw the two fighter jets following the turboprop airplane. He described him as a white male, age 29, who may have mental health problems.
The plane crashed either while the man was doing stunts or because of a lack of flying skills, according to the Sheriff's Office. Flights resumed from Sea-Tac by 9 p.m., but it took until 1 a.m. for operations to get fully back to normal, Ehl said.
They said F-15 fighter jets were scrambled from Portland and "made it within a few minutes of theft of plane".More news: Star Trek 4 In Trouble?
"Every airport in the country is going to be looking" at whether current protocols need to be changed, Soucie said.
Tilden and Horizon Air's CEO, Gary Beck, noted that the doors of the Bombardier Q400 turboprop plane had no locks, and that the engines can be started without a key, simply by flipping a series of switches and levers.
The plane was a Horizon Air Q400, according to a statement from Horizon's partner airline Alaska Airlines. I was thinking, like, I'm going to have this moment of serenity, take in all the sights.
In one, the controller can be heard telling the pilot: "What we don't want to see is you get hurt or anyone else get hurt, so like I said, if you want to land, that's probably the best way to go". "I was kind of hoping that was gonna be it".
Alaska said the plane was parked in a "maintenance position" in a cargo area of the airport and not involved with loading or unloading passengers. There were reportedly no passengers on the plane. Those employees direct aircraft for takeoff and gate approach and de-ice planes, as well as handle baggage.
"I've got a lot of people that care about me", the man later said.More news: Team gives medication to sick killer whale at sea
"Aw man, those guys would rough me up if I tried landing there".
Sea-Tac airport confirmed the plane was down a short time later. "Never really knew it, until now", he added.
"So, (he) had some knowledge but clearly wasn't a commercial pilot". "I don't know how he achieved the experience that he did". He said 30 to 40 investigators were interviewing the pilot's co-workers and family members. The rogue pilot was aauthorized to operate the equipment that tows airplanes to and from runways.
The regional airline, based at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, is owned by the Alaska Air Group.
The FBI is leading investigations into the incident and special agent Jay Tabb said there are dozens of people at the crash site working to find answers. I don't know man! The controller replies: "If you could, you just want to keep that plane right over the water".More news: Gary Woodland sets PGA Championship record before storm suspends play