SeaTac Airport was temporarily grounded amid a security threat.
Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, said on Twitter the man was suicidal and there was no connection to terrorism.
A Q400 Turboprop, like that stolen from Sea-Tac International Airport.
Leah Morse, who filmed the jet flying overhead, told news agency Reuters she felt in her "gut something was wrong" after spotting the plane.
He is believed to have been suicidal when he stole the plane capable of carrying 76 passengers.
Sea-Tac operations have resumed as normal, airport officials said. At the Alaska Airlines terminal, it was a hushed Friday night.
Released radio conversation between the man and air traffic controllers goes on for more than a half hour.
In the audio recording, the man can be heard starting to worry about how much fuel he had on board.
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Ground control advises him to wait. "That's McChord" (meaning the military airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord).
"I hit some turbulence around Rainier but there were no clouds there", the pilot says. "Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there". I don't know! I don't want to. "They probably have anti-aircraft".
"I felt like we were on the ground and we were safe, we weren't in the sky while something was going on", he said after getting off the plane. "I just heard it; it looked like a bomb. Now let's land that airplane safely and not hurt anybody on the ground".
"Everyone was literally frozen in place muttering about what possibly happened", he said. "But could you start a left turn please?"
"I've got a lot of people that care about me". I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. "Never knew it until now".
"Yeah", answers the pilot, who the controller addresses as Rich.
Witnesses reported a plane being flown low over Seattle.
Mark Reger was standing in his driveway near Steilacoom when he saw the planes fly overhead.