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Surveillance Footage Shows ‘SkyKing’ Airline Worker Jacking Commercial Plane for Fatal Joyride

How can it be this easy to steal a commercial airliner? Newly released surveillance camera footage shows how an airline ground service agent stole an Alaska Airlines’ Q400 Turboprop from the runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in 2018. Video shows how Richard Russell entered the aircraft’s cabin door after towing it in the direction of the runway. The footage was provided to KOIN-TV last week. The 29-year-old man quickly closed the plane’s door, soon announcing his plans to the airport’s traffic controllers. “I’m about to take off. This is going to be crazy,” Russell said. Russell was familiar enough with aviation to activate and take off the plane. Two F-15 fighter jets scrambled to intercept Russell’s stolen plane as he took off. The plane thief continued talking with air traffic controllers as he took the plane for a joyride. He admitted to “a few screws loose,” stating that he wasn’t planning on landing the aircraft. “I’ve played video games a few times… I know what I’m doing a little bit,” Russell said. The air traffic controller urged Russell to land the plane, directing him to nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “I’m gonna land it, in a safe kind of manner. I think I’m gonna try and do a barrel roll, and if that goes good, I’m just gonna nose down and call it a night.” Russell ultimately crashed the plane on Washington’s Ketron Island. His death was determined as a suicide by the FBI, with no other casualties in the crash. Russell was termed “SkyKing” on the internet after the theft, with some expressing sympathy for the deceased airport worker. Others expressed shock at how easily Russell stole the commercial plane from the runway. The theft raised concerns about insider hijackings in the aviation industry. “I got a lot of people that care about me,” Russell told the air traffic controller. “It’s going to disappoint them to hear I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them.” This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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