The 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop stolen by airport worker Richard Russell on Friday was completely destroyed when it crashed into an island in Puget Sound, authorities say. National Transportation Safety Board regional chief Debra Eckrote says the plane, stolen from Sea-Tac International Airport, was broken into small pieces by the crash into trees on sparsely populated Ketron Island. "You couldn't even tell it was a plane except for some of the bigger sections, like the wing section," she says. "Even the small sections, most of it doesn't resemble a plane." Authorities say human remains have been found at the scene, along with the flight data recorder and components of the cockpit recorder, the AP reports.
Authorities believe the 29-year-old Russell was killed in the crash, but nobody else was injured and he was not shot down by the military F-15s that trailed him for around an hour as he chatted with controllers and performed stunts including loops and barrel rolls, the Washington Post reports. Family members say they are utterly shocked by the actions of Russell, who had worked as a ground agent for more than three years and opened a bakery with his wife in Oregon years earlier. Analysts say the incident is likely to lead to major changes in airport security. "This is going to be a major learning event for the industry," says CNN aviation analyst Justin Green. "This is a really big deal." (Officials have no idea how Russell learned to fly.)