Air traffic control recordings have revealed the eerie final conversation from the man who stole an Alaska Airlines airplane at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The unidentified 29-year-old man spoke to a controller on a live air-traffic control feed during the hour-long episode.
The rogue pilot, who worked as an airport ground service agent at Horizon Air, was pursued by two F-15 fighter jets before the plane plunged into a heavily wooded area and was engulfed by flames.
The man was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor.
Although the identity of the man is not known, authorities have confirmed that he was in charge of directing aircraft for takeoff, gate approach and de-icing planes.
Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, tweeted that the man was «suicidal» and there was no connection to terrorism.
On the air-traffic control feed, the air-traffic controller can be heard trying to persuade the man, who he addressed as Rich and Richard, to land safely at a nearby airstrip.
But in the chilling audio recording from the cockpit, the pilot told the air traffic controller that he was «just a broken guy», and said he couldn’t land over fears he would be imprisoned.
I’m not ready to bring it down yet but holy smokes I need to stop looking at the fuel because it’s going down quick
Rogue Seattle-Tacoma pilot
The air traffic controller told the man: «There is a runway just off to your right side in about a mile.»
The rogue pilot responded: «Oh man. Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there. Oh they probably have got anti-aircraft.»
The controller said: «They don’t have any of that stuff, we are just trying to find you a place to land safely.»
At one point, the airport employee joked: «Hey do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?»
The controller tried to maintain this light conversation, adding: «You know, I think they would give you a job doing anything if you could pull this off.»
However, the man referred to as Rich repluied: «Yeah right! Nah, I’m a white guy.»
Rich added: «I’m not ready to bring it down yet but holy smokes I need to stop looking at the fuel because it’s going down quick.
«This is probably jail time for life, huh? I’ve got a lot of people that care about me.
«It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologise to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess.
«Never really knew it until now.»
Just before the audio recording suddenly stops, the man can be heard saying: «I feel like one of my engines is going out or something.»
Constance von Muehlen, the Horizon Air chief operating officer, said: «Our hearts are with the families of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees.»
The airport said that normal operations at the airport were interrupted briefly but have since resumed.
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