An audio emerged online of a conversation between a man who hijacked a plane from the Seattle Airport and an air-traffic controller.
They also will work to recover the remains of the 29-year-old Pierce County man thought to be the only person on the plane.
Later the man said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me".
He crashed the plane in a wooded area of Ketron Island, 25 miles south of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Within minutes of the plane's takeoff, the military scrambled two armed F-15 jets from OR to follow it, according to local and airline authorities and two sources with knowledge of the situation.
Two F-15s pursued the plane but were not involved in the crash, the sheriff said.
Two fighter jets were trying to redirect the stolen Horizon Air turboprop over the Pacific Ocean on Friday night when it crashed on an island off Steilacoom in Pierce County, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said in a news release Saturday morning.
The freaky incident involving a worker authorities said was suicidal points to one of the biggest potential perils for commercial air travel: airline or airport employees causing mayhem.
Authorities say he commandeered an empty Bombardier Q400, 107-foot (32.61 m) long turboprop aircraft on Friday night from a maintenance area at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Russell worked for Horizon Airlines, a sister carrier of Alaska Airlines [ALKAIR.UL], as a ground service agent who helped baggage handlers and was part of Horizon's tow team, which moved planes around on the tarmac.
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The family of a man who stole a Horizon Air aircraft from Sea-Tac Airport and crashed it say they're "stunned and heartbroken" by his death.
Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life". Troyer said they are "working background on him now". For one, the man shouldn't have been able to board the plane alone, he said. "I've played some video games before", he said. They're not as easy to fly as say a Cessna 150.
It's unclear how Russell attained the skills to do loops in the aircraft, authorities said.
He then said: "I wouldn't know how to land - I wasn't really planning on landing it".
Fortunately, the only death in the crash was the unnamed joyrider, who still has not yet been named, although air-traffic controllers call him "Rich" during their exchanges.
Military jets had been scrambled to chase the plane, according to the Times. I wouldn't know those things. A former Horizon Air colleague of Russell's who witnessed the crash told Buzzfeed that Russell was "a pretty nice kid", and that "It never crossed my mind that somebody would do something like that".
"Safety is our No. 1 goal", said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines.
In a statement, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee praised the responding fighter pilots that flew alongside the stolen aircraft.
After the plane approached Ketron Island, Waldron saw a thick column of smoke followed by a loud explosion, he said.