In partial recordings of his conversations with air traffic controllers that were published online by Broadcastify.com, the man said he was sorry to disappoint people who cared about him and described himself as a "broken guy". They should've gone over and said "Hey, ' if nothing else, 'Can I help you?"
Authorities don't know why he took the plane, but he could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is "just a broken guy".
Moments later Russell crashed the plane onto the sparsely-populated Ketron Island.
Two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled as "Rich" flew the passenger plane in an aerial loop, then headed south.
According to the unverified Twitter profile of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, the plane was stolen by a mechanic from an unknown airline company, based on preliminary information.
At a news conference in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, officials from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said that they are still working with authorities as they investigate what happened.
They said the incident had come as a complete shock.
Alaska Airlines said the plane was a Horizon Air Q400, which had an "unauthorized takeoff" from Sea-Tac around 8 p.m. local time.
Authorities say Richard Russell stole a Horizon Q400 aircraft and took it to the air later resulting in the loss of his life following a crash into an island.
Per CNN, the man also had some weird and heartbreaking radio correspondence from the cockpit before the 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop went down.
Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life".
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"We have multiple 911 calls, over 30, reporting a fireball", Troyer said. "Uploading and downloading the plane", said Halbert. Russell said he was having a "blast" and had learned to fly from video games.
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?"
The status of the man, described by authorities as "suicidal", was not immediately clear Saturday morning. "They probably have anti-aircraft".
He then said: "I wouldn't know how to land - I wasn't really planning on landing it".
Air traffic controllers and pilots could be heard discussing a "ground stop" and dealing with a backlog of aircraft.
Troyer said F-15 aircraft took off out of Portland, Oregon, were in the air "within a few minutes", and the pilots kept "people on the ground safe".
Russell is presumed dead after the aircraft crashed into a small island southwest of Seattle in the US.
An investigation will also seek to determine how a ground service worker was able to access the plane's cockpit and steal it in the first place.
President Donald Trump was briefed and the White House praised authorities´ quick response to the crisis.
"It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie", a resident who saw the crash told The Seattle Times. The jets were not involved in the crash, it said.
"That means I lift a lot of bags, like a lot of bags, so many bags", he says, adding, "it allows me to do some pretty cool things, too".