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As the most reliable and balanced news aggregation service on the internet, DML News offers the following information published by SEATTLETIMES.COM:

The airline employee who took a plane from Sea-Tac Airport on Friday night and flew it throughout the Puget Sound region before crashing on an island was 29-year-old Richard Russell, according to multiple sources, including one in law enforcement.

“He was a quiet guy. It seemed like he was well liked by the other workers,” said Rick Christenson, an operational supervisor with the airline who retired in May. “I feel really bad for Richard and for his family. I hope they can make it through this.”

Russell was presumed killed in the crash of the Horizon Air Q400 turboprop on Ketron Island, just west of Steilacoom. Investigators were searching the site Saturday.

The article goes on to state the following:

Russell worked as a member of Horizon’s tow team, Christenson said, and helped handle baggage for the airline.

Two-person tow teams are responsible for moving airplanes on the tarmac. One person drives a tow tug and the other communicates with the tower from inside the airplane’s cockpit and can apply the plane’s brakes in an emergency, Christenson said.

Tow teams are trained how to use some airplane systems such as the auxiliary power unit, hydraulics and radios, Christenson said. He said he did not know Russell well.

Russell had worked at Horizon Air for nearly four years, according to an airline official.

Russell was married. He reportedly met Hannah in 2010, and they were married one year later. The Seattle Times also reported:

Airline and law-enforcement officials did not publicly confirm Russell’s identity, but Saturday morning provided some details of his background and how he acquired the plane.

“He worked a shift yesterday. We believe he was in uniform,” said Brad Tilden, the chief executive officer of Alaska Air Group, which is the parent company to Horizon Air. “It was his job to be around airplanes.”

Tilden said the plane was parked at Plane Cargo 1, in the north portion of the airport. The airline did not plan to fly the plane Friday evening.

Horizon CEO Gary Beck said the ground-service agent, who is not believed to have a pilot’s license, pulled off some “incredible maneuvers” once airborne. “Commercial aircraft are complex machines,” he said. “So I don’t know how he achieved the experience that he did.”

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HEAVY.COM provided details on the conversation between Russel and the air traffic controller before he crashed the plane:

The audio between the man known as “Rich” and air traffic controllers further captured his demeanor. “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. I’m going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess. Never really knew it, until now,” Richard Russell said at one point.

At one point, Rich asked for help in getting the cabin depressurized, complaining he was getting lightheaded.

“I don’t need that much help; I’ve played some video games before,” he told the controllers trying to help him. “Ah, minimum wage. We’ll chalk it up to that. Maybe that will grease the gears a little bit with the higher-ups,” he said at another point.

At another point, Richard Russell said, “I’m down to 2100; I started at like 30-something.”

“Rich, you said you had 2100 pounds of fuel left?” the controller responded.

“Yeah – I don’t know what the burnage…is like on a takeoff but yeah. It’s burned quite a bit faster than I expected.”

Russell said to dispatchers, “You think if I can land this successfully, Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?” and the Air Traffic Control tower said, “I think they will give you a job doing anything if you pull this off.” He replied, “yeahhh right.”

“There is the runway just about a mile off your right side, do you see that? That’s McChord field,” the controller tells Richard Russell.

“Aw man, those guys would rough me up if I tried landing there,” Rich says. “I think I might mess something up there too. I wouldn’t want to do that. Oh- they’ve probably got anti-aircraft…not quite ready to bring it down just yet. Holy smokes, I’ve got to stop looking at the fuel because it’s going down quick.”

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