Officials Stumped by Sea-Tac Worker Who Swiped Plane

Unclear how Richard Russell learned to fly; family says they're stunned
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2018 6:33 AM CDT
Officials Stumped by Sea-Tac Worker Who Swiped Plane
Friends of Richard Russell give parting hugs after making a statement Saturday, Aug. 11, 2018, in Orting, Wash. Russell is presumed dead after stealing a Horizon Airlines plane from SeaTac International Airport and crashing it into Ketron Island.   (Bettina Hansen /The Seattle Times via AP)

The man accused of swiping a Horizon Air turboprop and taking it for a presumably fatal joyride had security clearance to be around aircraft, but no pilot's license, and authorities tell the Seattle P-I that they have no idea how he acquired the skills to fly a plane, much less perform the stunts he was observed doing. The AP identifies the 29-year-old airline worker as Richard Russell, and family members describe him as a kind and gentle husband, son, and friend whose stunt leaves them in complete shock. Russell was from Wasilla, Alaska, where he was a standout high school athlete, and former teachers and coaches appear similarly dumbfounded by his actions. Nicknamed "Beebo," Russell posted a funny video to YouTube last year in which he proclaimed "I lift a lot of bags. Like a lot of bags. So many bags." (More Seattle stories.)

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