How Did an Aircraft Thief Takeoff Without a License or Clearance? Here’s What Experts Believe.

Experts are trying to determine exactly how a suicidal baggage handler was able to hijack an empty Alaska Airlines plane from Seattle airport and perform advanced stunt maneuvers before crashing to his death. . .

“They don’t necessarily use a key so there’s a switch that they use to start the aircraft,” National Transportation Safety Board official Debra Eckrote said Saturday as she spoke with media about the theft of Horizon Air Q400. . .

Russell had a security clearance that allowed him access to the planes, but lacked a license to fly it.

“He did say he spent a lot of time with video games,” said Mark Rosenker, a former chairman of the NTSB, told CBS News. “There are video games that deal with a simulation of this aircraft. And the fidelity is amazing. You could learn a great deal from playing these types of games.”

Witnesses filmed the plane performing barrel rolls and loop-the-loops during a 90-minute joyride. Military planes pursued the plane, chasing it away from highly-populated areas. The plan flew toward Ketron Island where it crashed into a ball of fire, reports state. At one point, he flew the plane upside-down. (Read more from “How Did an Aircraft Thief Takeoff Without a License or Clearance? Here’s What Experts Believe.” HERE)

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