AUDIO has emerged of the astonishing conversation between a “suicidal” hijacker and air traffic control before the passenger plane crashed into an island.
The Horizon Air employee, 29, took off in one of the airline’s Q400 turboprops at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
The audio exchange obtained by the Seattle Times has revealed how the employee worried about ending up in “jail for life” for stealing and flying the plane.
And bizarrely he asked for the coordinates of the orca whale dragging its dead calf, adding: “I wanna go see that guy.”
The worker, understood to be a mechanic, crashed on Ketron Island in Washington about 90 minutes after the takeoff at 8pm local time.
The impact sparked an intense fire on the wooded 230-acre island, which has a population of just 20 and is roughly 25 miles from Seattle.
Stunned eyewitnesses described the 76-seat plane doing a “loop-the-loop”.
Two fighters jet are also filmed shadowing the plane just moments before it smashed into the ground.
The Sheriff’s department said the crash was “not a terrorist incident” but a “joyride gone terribly wrong”.
No other passengers or crew were onboard the place.
The employee, who was reportedly married, is believed to have died in the crash
Now incredible audio obtained by the Seattle Times has revealed the conversation between the employee and Air Traffic Control.
Rich: …Some gas to go check out the Olympics and errr, yeah.
Air traffic controller (ATC): Ok and Rich, do you know, are you able to tell what altitude you are at?
Rich: Yeah that’s all mumbo… I have no idea what all that means, I wouldn’t know how to punch it in. I’m off autopilot.
(Inaudible) Rich: You taking me to the jets?
ATC: Nah I’m not taking you to any jets, I’m actually keeping you away from aircraft that are trying to land at Sea-Tac.
Rich: Oh ok yeah I don’t wanna screw with that. I’m glad you’re not, you know, screwing up everyone else’s day on account of me.
ATC: (Inaudible) Can we just shut down?
Rich: I’m down to 21 hundred, I started like 30 something.
ATC: Rich you said you had 2,100 pounds of fuel left? Rich: Yeah I don’t know what the burnage… burnout… is like on take-off, but yeah it’s burned quite a bit faster than I expected.
Rich: Ah man those guys would rough me up if I tried landing that. I think I might mess something up there too. I wouldn’t want to do that. I’ll hopefully… Oh they’ve probably got anti-aircraft!”
ATC: No they don’t have any of that stuff. We’re just trying to find a place for you to land safely.
Rich: Yeah I’m not quite ready to bring it down just yet, but holy smokes I’ve got to stop looking at the fuel because it’s going down quick.
ATC: Ok Rich if you could, could you start a left-hand turn, and we’ll take you down to the southeast please.
Rich: This is probably like jail time for life, huh? I mean I would hope it is for a guy like me.
ATC: Well Rich we’re not going to worry or think about that, but could you start a left-hand turn please?
Rich: Hey, you think if I land this successfully (inaudible) would give me a job as a pilot?
ATC: You know I think they would give you a job doing anything if you can pull this off.
Rich: Yeeeeahhh right! Nah I’m a white guy… (audio cuts).
TATC: If you wanted to land, probably the best bet is that runway just ahead and to your left. Again that’s McChord field, um, if you wanted to try that might be the best way to set up and see if you can land there, or just like the pilot suggests another option would be over Puget Sound into the water.
Rich: Dang, you talk to McChord yet? Because I don’t think I’d be happy with you telling me I could land like that, because I could mess stuff up.
ATC: Well Rich I already spoke to ‘em and just like me, what we want to see is you not get hurt or anybody else get hurt, so like I said if you want to try to land that’s probably the best place to go.
Rich: Hey I want the coordinates of that orca, with err, you know the mama orca with the baby, I wanna go see that guy.
Rich: Hey, is that pilot on? I want to know what this weather is going to be like in the Olympics (mountains).
Air traffic control: Well, if you can see the Olympics, the weather’s good. I can see the Olympics from my window, and it looks pretty good over there.
Rich: Alright, ’cause I felt some, what felt like turbulence around Rainer, but there was no clouds hardly.
Air traffic control: Oh, that’s just the wind blowing over all over the bumpy surfaces there. Captain Bill: Alright Rich, this is Captain Bill. Congratulations, you did that, now let’s try to land that airplane safely and not hurt anyone on the ground.
Rich: Alright, damnit, I don’t know man, I don’t know. I don’t want to… I was kind of hoping that would be it, you know.
Rich: I’m gonna land it, in a safe kind of manner. I think I’m gonna try to do a barrel roll, and if that goes good, I’m just gonna nose down and call it a night.
Air traffic control: Well Rich, before you do that, let’s think about this. I’ve got another pilot coming up, pilot Joel, in just a minute here I hope. And we’ll be able to give you some advice on what to do next.
Rich: I feel like one of my engines is going out or something.
Air traffic control: OK Rich, if you could, you just want to keep that plane right over the water. Maybe keep the aircraft nice and low.
Rich: Just kind of lightheaded, dizzy. Man, the sights went by so fast. I was thinking, like, I’m going to have this moment of serenity, take in all the sights. There’s a lot of pretty stuff, but they’re prettier in a different context.
Air traffic control: Do you have any idea of how much fuel you have left?
Rich: Oh man, not enough. Not enough to get by. Like, uh, 760? 760 pounds?
Air traffic control: Just flying around the plane, you seem comfortable with that?
Rich: Oh hell yeah, it’s a blast. I’ve played video games before so I know what I’m doing a little bit.
Air traffic control: OK, and you can see all the terrain around you, you’ve got no issue with visibility or anything?
Rich: Naw, everything’s peachy, peachy clean. Just did a little circle around Rainer, it’s beautiful. I think I’ve got some gas to go check out the Olympics (mountains).