Just-Released Video Shows Moments Before Seattle Airport Worker Stole Plane in 2018

The drama ended when Richard Russell crashed the plane onto a remote island, killing himself.

Newly released footage is shedding light on a 2018 incident in which a ground service agent stole an empty plane on the runway at Seattle-Tacoma Airport and performed an unauthorized takeoff before eventually crashing.

The video shows Richard Russell going through security wearing a T-shirt that read: “The sky’s no limit.”

He then towed an empty 70-seater Alaska Airlines plane and positioned it to face the runway. When he unhitched the tow line, the plane started moving forward with no one at the controls.

Incredibly, Russell ran alongside, got the door open, ran up the steps and shut the door behind him. Five minutes later, he took off.

“I've got myself in a bit of a predicament. I'm in the air right now,” he told the tower.

What followed was a homeland security nightmare. Russell flew the plane around Seattle for an hour and even did aerobatics. National Guard fighter jets were scrambled in fear that terrorists were on board.

Russell's communication with air traffic control was a forecast of what was about to happen.

“I wouldn’t know how to land it. I wasn’t really planning on landing it,” he said.

The drama ended when he crashed the plane onto a remote island, killing himself.

Several years ago, Russell posted a video of his workday as a baggage handler.  

Outwardly he and his wife seemed happy. But he was fighting inner demons, as he revealed in a haunting exchange with air traffic control.

“Just a broken guy who has got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it until now."

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