SEATTLE, Wash. (KOIN) — The final descent of a stolen Horizon Air Q400 aircraft that ended when it crashed into a small island in the Puget Sound was intentional, according to a completed FBI investigation.
Twenty-eight-year-old Richard Russell, a Horizon Airlines employee, stole the empty 76-seat turboprop on Aug. 10 from Sea-Tac Airport. Video showed the airplane doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers.
After the incident, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department initially said that the crash, which killed Russell, happened because of Russell “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills.”
However, on Friday, the FBI said they believe the final descent to the ground was intentional. During the final minute of the flight, FDR data showed “significant sideslip on the airplane,” but the plane appeared to remain in control.
The FBI added that if Russell wanted to avoid impact, he had time and energy to pull the column back, raise the nose and initiate a climb.
Below are the events of Aug. 10, 2018 and the times they unfolded:
- 2:36 p.m. – Russell arrives at Port of Seattle-operated employee security checkpoint at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for his work shift
- 2:38 p.m. – Russell clears through employee security checkpoint screening, without any anomalies
- 7:15 p.m. – Russell arrives in a tow vehicle at Cargo 1, at far north end of Sea-Tac airfield
- 7:19 p.m. – Russell climbs inside Horizon Air Q400 aircraft #N449QX
- 7:22 p.m. – Russell begins sequence to start aircraft, and propellers start turning
- 7:27 p.m. – Russell exits plane and uses tow vehicle to turn aircraft nose toward airfield
- 7:28 p.m. – Russell re-enters the plane
- 7:32 p.m. – The aircraft pulls away from its parked location
- 7:33 p.m. – The aircraft takes off from the airport
- 8:46 p.m. – FDR data shows end of flight, known to investigators as the aircraft crash on Ketron Island in Pierce County, Washington