An airplane employee took off in a plane without permission at Sea-Tac Airport in Seattle, Washington and later crashed in Puget Sound, the airport confirmed Friday night. There were no other passengers on board.
An FAA spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that the plane departed without permission. Two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled within minutes to track the wayward plane, said Ed Troyer, the public information officer for the Pierce County Sheriff.
Alaska Airlines acknowledged the incident in a statement, saying “We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400.” A Q400 can seat as many as 75 passengers.
The US Coast Guard was responding to a crash site where a “large smoke plume” was seen, NBC News reported. The plane was allegedly “flying around Puget Sound,” before later reports indicated that the plane went down near Ketron Island. Rescue boats were on scene.
Broadcast images of the crash site showed burning forest land in an apparently dense, dark area near Ketron Island.
Sea-Tac Airport confirmed that the plane crashed in south Puget Sound. The airport has returned to normal operations after a brief ground stop.
Here’s a radar view of the reported crash site, via Flightradar:
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