This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The Seattle Times has uncovered new evidence on Richard Russell, the ground crew member for Alaska subsidiary airline Horizon who stole a jet from the Seattle-Tacoma Airport in August and died when he crashed the plane after a 75-minute joyride.
According to interviews and newly released emergency dispatch recordings, Russell was caught in the cockpit of an unoccupied aircraft a year before he stole the Horizon Q400 plane from the SEA tarmac.
A pilot for Sky West Airlines, Joel Monteith, called an emergency dispatcher after he saw Russell and another man in the cockpit of an empty aircraft at SEA “pointing and flipping switches.” Monteith said he confronted the two men, and when he asked what they were doing, they said they were learning how to use the aircraft auxiliary power in order to tow it — one of their responsibilities as ground crew.
But for Monteith, their behavior still raised alarm bells — enough so that he called the emergency line. “They kind of … started to get up and then leave the airplane when I confronted them,” Monteith said. “So, that was kind of suspicious.”
The exchange about the incident between Monteith and the emergency dispatcher was captured in an audio recording obtained by the Seattle Times in a state Public Records Act request — one of several new pieces of evidence that surfaced as a result of that information dump.
Furthermore, Monteith, who is 55 and has been a pilot for 30 years, told the dispatcher that he remembered interacting with Russell once in the cockpit of a Embraer E-175 Monteith was flying. In that encounter, Monteith remembers 29-year-old Russell “asking questions (and) wanting to do my flows, which is the preflight preparation I do for takeoff.”
At about 8:00pm local time on August 10, Russell stole an empty Bombardier Q400 aircraft from SEA. Russell did several aerial stunts that he told air traffic controllers he learned from playing “video games before,” and then he crashed the plane on Ketron Island in south Puget Sound after being chased by US Air Force F-15s.
“I don’t think the thing with this guy is like a plot that this dude just came up with like overnight,” Monteith told the Seattle Times. “I think that maybe this guy had been thinking about doing this for a long time and then maybe the Q400 that he took was just an airplane of opportunity.”
Know before you go.
News and deals straight to your inbox every day.
Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.
- Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees