Plane Stolen From Seattle Crashes, Killing Pilot

Plane Stolen From Seattle Crashes, Killing Pilot

An airline employee who stole an empty passenger plane from Seattle airport has crashed on a nearby island.

Authorities said the man had made "an unauthorized take-off" late on Friday local time, forcing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to close.

Two F15 fighter jets pursued the plane, which crashed in Puget Sound. The man is believed to have died, according to CNN and the BBC.

The local sheriff's office said it was "not a terrorist incidentj," adding that the man was local and aged 29.

After flying and doing air stunts for about an hour, the plane crashed at Ketron Island, the sheriff's department said.

The man "was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island," sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer tweeted.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor later told reporters it appeared to be "a joyride gone terribly wrong," according to ABC7 News, adding "most terrorists don't do loops over the water."

Authorities initially identified the man as a mechanic but later said he was a ground service agent, a job that includes directing aircraft for takeoff and gate approach, and de-icing planes.

"Our hearts are with the families of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees," said Constance von Muehlen, the airline's chief operating officer.