Investigators are piecing together how an airline ground agent working his regular shift stole an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane, took off from Sea-Tac International Airport and fatally crashed into a small island in the Puget Sound after being chased by military jets that were quickly scrambled to intercept the aircraft.
Officials said Saturday that the man was a three-and-a-half-year Horizon Air employee and had clearance to be among aircraft, but that to their knowledge, he wasn't a licensed pilot. The 29-year-old man used a machine called a pushback tractor to first maneuver the aircraft so he could board and then take off Friday evening, authorities said.
A U.S. official briefed on the matter told The Associated Press the man was Richard Russell. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Family members of Russell say they are "stunned and heartbroken."
"This is a complete s…