A Horizon Air Q400 turbojet was hijacked from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport then crashed 25 miles away as it was being pursued by F-15s. Sadly, this is not a joke.
As more details emerged, here is what we have learned:
- A disgruntled 29-year-old mechanic hijacked a 76-seat Q400 at SEA around 8:00 P.M. PDT
- No passengers were onboard
- After the unauthorized takeoff, F-15 fighter jets were scrambled immediately from Portland, Oregon
- The mechanic performed aerial acrobatics including barrel rolls and flying upside down
- He joked about “jail time for life” with air traffic controllers
- F-15s appeared
- The plane crashed on Ketron Island, a densely wooded island
- The hijacker died, but no one else was injured
During this scare, all departures from SEA were halted. The airport has now re-opened for departures.
It boggles my mind that an aircraft could be stolen like this in 2018. But I am curious: do commercial jetliners have keys? How easy is it for a rogue mechanic to steal a plane? What security mechanisms are in place, if any, to prevent someone who breaches an airport fence from stealing a plane?
The identity of the hijackers has not been released yet, though his name was apparently Rich.
As odd as it sounds, I’m actually thankful tonight. Imagine if this was done with passengers onboard or had crashed in a busier place? To say “it could have been worse” borders on crass, but I am thankful only one person was killed. I am also very saddened that one person was killed. What an unexpected incident…
image: Bartlomiej Mostek / Flickr