[Warning: Potentially Triggering Content]
Whoa. A baggage handler from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was able to steal a plane and take off from the tarmac without ever being questioned. Sadly, authorities believe the incident may have been a suicide mission.
The incident took place back in 2018, but CCTV footage has just been released by The Port of Seattle. The video shows employee Richard Russell going through security in a t-shirt that reads “The Sky’s No Limit.” A very eerie message in retrospect!
A few hours later, he arrived on the tarmac where he towed an Alaska Airlines‘ Q400 Turboprop into position. He then managed to take off all by himself — and no one seemed to notice the odd behavior before it was too late!!
The 29-year-old, who worked at the airport, spoke to air traffic control at the time. During the conversion, he admitted he had very little flight knowledge, or as he called it “mumbo jumbo,” but that he had put “a little gas” in the plane “to go check out the Olympics” (which were held in South Korea that year). As a controller tried to direct him to a safe place to land the plane while fuel was reportedly running low, Richard revealed that he wasn’t ready to land just yet. He later wondered aloud:
“This is probably like jail time for life, huh? I mean, I would hope it is for a guy like me.”
Wow… What a thing to say at a time like that, and so nonchalantly, too.
The air traffic controller calmly diverted the baggage handler’s attention back onto the task at hand — safely landing the plane. Unfortunately, Russell didn’t do that at all. He crashed into a nearby island in Puget Sound, not far from the airport where he stole the plane.
A bystander recorded the aftermath which saw ominous billows of smoke erupt. The FBI eventually ruled Richard’s death a suicide. While video footage of his time in the air had been seen before, watching Richard casually make it through security and into the pilot seat of the plane in this new CCTV footage is certainly harrowing. Check out the audio recording, first released by The Seattle Times, and the video footage (below).
You can see even more angles of his flight (below).
What a sad incident… and how shocking that Richard was able to steal a plane so easily! We know he was an employee, but wow! We hope the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has amped up its security protocols in the intervening years. Reactions, Perezcious readers?
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
[Image via The Port of Seattle]
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