Man who stole plane was kind, funny, family and former colleague say

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The family of a man who authorities say stole a plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and later crashed it called him a faithful husband, loving son and good friend.

The plane went down on Ketron Island, which is about 40 miles southwest of the airport, the sheriff's office said.

The 29-year-old man, who has not been named, was suicidal and appeared to have acted alone, according to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, which said the employee was believed to have been killed in the crash.

The airline tweeted out that they are "aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400" turboprop plane, but "we believe there are no passengers on board".

A heist and deadly crash of a passenger plane in the Seattle area has left the family of the airport employee who stole the plane devastated and the nation questioning the vulnerability of airport security.

"There is a protocol to not allow anyone singularly to get onboard an aircraft", Soucie said.

"Got a few screws loose, I guess", Russell is heard saying in the recording.

The plane crashed on Ketron Island, a small island in the Puget Sound that is home to about two dozen residents.

"He was a nice guy", Kaelin said.

Hannah marked six years of marriage to Rich in January in a post which she captioned: "I'm so happy to have found such a kindred soul".

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The Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Transportation Safety Board were investigating the incident, said Brad Tilden, the CEO of Alaska Air Group, in an online statement.

The married airport employee, 29, "hijacked" the Alaska Airlines plane before performing stunts in the sky as he was tailed by fighter jets today.

At one point, he said: "Hey do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?"

Two military F-15s chased the plane "within a few minutes of theft of plane" and "kept plane out of harms way and people on ground safe", the sheriff's department said.

Later Russell said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me".

No injuries were reported on the ground, Pastor said, as the plane crashed and started an intense fire on the wooded, 230-acre island, which has a population of 20.

Released radio conversation between the man and air traffic controllers goes on for more than a half hour. He flew it for an hour, followed by two armed F-15 jets from OR that the military scrambled, before he crashed. "We are giving those investigators our full support and cooperation", Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement on August 11.

Experts say the crash exposed alarming gaps in airport security, and is likely to prompt a major review industry security measures.

Russell was not known to have had a pilot's licence, Horizon Air Chief Executive Gary Beck said at a news conference, and it was not clear how he was able to take off and fly as he did.

"It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie", he told the newspaper.