FBI: Man who stole and crashed commercial airplane acted alone

Posted at 1:04 PM, Nov 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-09 15:17:13-05

The airline worker who stole a passenger plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in August and died after crashing it did so intentionally and acted alone, according to an FBI investigation into the incident released Friday.

Richard Russell, who had a wide-ranging discussion with air traffic control while flying the plane he had stolen, piloted the aircraft into a “final decent to the ground” that was intentional according to the FBI. He did not have any assistance during the incident, the investigation found.

“If the pilot had wanted to avoid impact with the ground, he had time and energy to pull the column back, raise the nose, and initiate a climb,” the report said.

“Extensive investigative activity failed to reveal any additional subject(s) involved in the planning or execution of the unauthorized flight,” it said.

Russell, a 28-year-old baggage handler for Horizon Air, stole an empty passenger plane that was parked in a maintenance area and was not scheduled for flight.

After taking off, he told air traffic control he was “just a broken guy.”

“I’ve got a lot of people that care about me, and it’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this,” Russell says. “I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it until now.”

The FBI said in a statement that it will not pursue charges over the incident “given the death of Russell and his lack of co- conspirators.”