Airline employee 'steals plane from major United States airport and crashes into island'

In a tweet Alaska Airlines confirmed they were aware of an incident involving an unauthorised take-off

Sea-Tac confirmed an airline employee took off without passengers and tweeted normal operations had resumed by 9:30 p.m. local time.

Alaska Airlines tweeted about an incident involving an "unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400".

"What we have is that someone stole a plane from Alaska Airlines", Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer told the News Tribune. "Was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island", the sheriff's office tweeted. However, dismissing the hijacking reports, the Pierce County Sheriff's Office said it was not a terrorist incident, adding the man was 29-year-old local. Horizon Air is a division of Alaskan that flies shorter routes in the western US.

The plane, a 76-seater Q400 turboprop aircraft, belonged to Alaska Airlines.

The man also said he had no flying experience - but had "played some video games before".

He tells air traffic control he wants to do a barrel roll.

"We're working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Transportation Safety Board". The plane, which was taken from a maintenance position and was not scheduled for passenger flight, crashed about an hour later in a wooded area on Ketron Island in rural Pierce County. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this.Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess".

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Witness footage shows the plane's erratic flight prior to the crash.

The man could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is "just a broken guy".

"We looked across the water there's this huge fireball coming up off the west coast of Ketron Island, followed by smoke".

The sheriff said the pilot appeared to have acted alone and was likely killed in the crash.

The pilot of the stolen Horizon Airlines turboprop alternately expressed remorse for his actions and a desire to perform aerobatics as flew over Puget Sound on Friday, pursued by two F-15 fighters. He said he didn't see the crash but saw smoke.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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