Non-Pilot Steals, Flies, does a Barrel Roll And Crashes Passenger Plane [Videos + Air Traffic Audio]
If you’ve ever seen the game Flight Simulator, you’ve probably wondered exactly how prepared you would be to fly a real plane.
We’re hoping you never have to find out, but if you believe Richard Russell, the airline worker who stole a passenger plane from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, you might know enough to make it about 40 kilometres.
During his hour in the air, Russell also managed to pull off a few aerial stunts.
Before we get to that, here’s CNN:
Russell [below], a Horizon Air ground service agent for three and a half years, was the only person aboard the plane, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said. The job of a ground service agent includes directing aircraft for takeoff and gate approach, handling baggage and tidying and de-icing planes, authorities said.
The 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop plane took off without authorization at 7:32 p.m. local time Friday, with Russell, who was not a pilot, at the controls, officials said.
After Russell talked periodically with air traffic controllers for about an hour, the plane crashed at Ketron Island, officials said.
Let’s see some of those aerial antics, then, with the audio being the interaction between Russell and authorities on the ground:
There’s a slight overlap here with what you heard above, but it’s worth listening to some of his final words in full:
So how did he manage to pull this off, when he had no experience of flying a plane? Well, you guessed it:
Early in the flight, a controller apparently is giving instructions to Russel while he flies the plane.
Russell: “Yeah, that’s all mumbo ju… — I have no idea what all that means. I wouldn’t know how to punch it in. I’m off autopilot.”
A controller brings on the radio a pilot who will try to relay instructions.
Controller: “… Apparently a grounds crewman with Horizon, I guess. And uh, right now he’s just flying around, and just he needs some help controlling his aircraft.”
Russell: “Nah, I mean, I don’t need that much help. I’ve played some video games before.”
One more exchange that isn’t in either of the video clips above:
Russell: “Damn it … people’s lives are at stake here.”
Controller: “Now … don’t say stuff like that.”
Russell: “No, I told you. I don’t want to hurt no one. I just want you to whisper sweet nothings in my ear.”
We’ll finish with some of the statement released by his family:
“This is a complete shock to us,” the family said in a statement Saturday night. “We are devastated by these events, and Jesus is truly the only one holding this family together right now.”
The statement said Russell, 29, was “a faithful husband, a loving son and a good friend.”
It’s a shame there wasn’t a different, less deadly, ending, but at least no innocent bystanders ended up being hurt when the plane came down.