The U.S. Air Force (USAF) scrambled F-15 fighter jets to intercept a stolen Horizon Air Q400 airliner which took off without authorization from Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport on Aug. 10.
The Q400 twin-turboprop airliner was reportedly stolen by an airline employee and there is nobody else onboard. The incident had initially led to locked down of the airport with all flights halted.
The F-15C fighters belonging to 142nd Fighter Wing (142 FW) were scrambled to “intercept a low-flying target south of Seattle” at around 8:15pm evening from Portland International Airport. 142 FW is a unit of the Oregon Air National Guard, stationed at Portland Air National Guard Base, Oregon. The unit guards the Pacific Northwest skies from northern California to the Canada–US border, on 24-hour alert as part of the North American Air Defense (NORAD) system.
Rock 41 and Rock 42 scrambling out of PDX this evening pic.twitter.com/6otUX7hkMV
— Sabian404 (@Sabian404) August 11, 2018
The F-15s were cleared to launch flares during the intercept and the Q400 aircraft has since crashed or was shot down, with the F-15s circling overhead the crash site and waiting for first responders, reported The Drive.
The crash started a fire on the island and the fire crews and boats are responding to the scene.
— carrie bentley (@actualcarrie) August 11, 2018
The stolen aircraft from Horizon Air, sister carrier of Alaska Air, is believed to have crashed on Ketron Island near Seattle. Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West.
Apparently someone stole a plane from SeaTac? Saw two fighter jets fly overhead then smoke pic.twitter.com/w0bveGUJQH
— McKenna Brown (@mckenna_brown) August 11, 2018
“We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorised takeoff of a Horizon Air Q400. We believe there are no passengers on board. More information as we learn more”, tweeted Alaska Airlines.
After the reported crash, aerospace restrictions have been lifted and operations at Sea-Tac are now back to normal.
An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed.
— Sea-Tac Airport (@SeaTacAirport) August 11, 2018
Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, also referred to as Sea–Tac Airport, is the primary commercial airport serving the Seattle metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Washington. It is located in the city of SeaTac, approximately 13 miles (21 km) south of Downtown Seattle.