The man sounds calm at times and jokes with operators on the ground, who try to direct him to places to land. "I would like to apologize to each and every one of them".
As he was in the air, Mr Russell could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he was "just a broken guy".
The biggest question: How did a ground service agent - whose job includes directing planes for takeoff and gate approaches as well as baggage handling and de-icing - manage to steal a 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop and fly it for almost an hour Friday night with military jets in pursuit before plunging into a wooded island?
As Rich flew over the water, two F-15 fighter jets were dispatched to intercept the plane.
Sheriff Paul A. Pastor said at the press conference that there was no sign that it was a terrorist attack.
The Alaska Airlines plane that was stolen by an airline employee from Seattle-Tacoma International airport has crashed in Washington's South Puget Sound.
A Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, reported to be hijacked, flies over University Place, Washington, the US, before crashing in the South Puget Sound, August 10, 2018 in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media. The plane involved was a Horizon Air Q400 with no passengers on board, tweeted Alaskan Airlines.
She said the plane was "highly fragmented" and the wings were detached from the fuselage. At one point, Russell told a controller he had played a lot of video games.
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On a SoundCloud site, Russell interviews fellow ground service agents, asking them questions that include: "What was one of your best travel experiences using your flight benefits?" Authorities said they don't think he had a pilot's license and aren't sure how he was able to take off, much less perform complicated tricks in the air like a "barrel roll". "Never really knew it until now".
In a recording posted to Broadcastify, the pilot can be heard calmly chatting with Air Traffic Control. There were no other people on board, and the man piloting the plane has not been recovered.
"There were some maneuvers that were done that were incredible maneuvers with the aircraft", Gary Beck, CEO of Horizon Air, said of the flight that ended with a crash onto a small island.
"If that goes good, I'm going to go nose down and call it a night", Rich says.
On Saturday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told media that President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident and is now "monitoring the situation" in Seattle.
Later on the pilot says: "I've got a lot of people that care about me".
Royal King told The Seattle Times he was photographing a wedding when he saw the low-flying turboprop being chased by two F-15s.
The plane was stolen at around 8 pm (0300 GMT Saturday) and crashed 90 minutes later, officials said. He said he didn't see the crash but saw smoke.