My flight 603 on Alaska Airlines was beginning its descent into the Seattle-Tacoma airport. The plane left San Antonio, TX four hours before, and the journey was uneventful. A routine flight, no turbulence in the air and a smooth ride.
The descent into Seattle was slightly different than usual. There were turns made to the right and to the left, breath-taking views of Elliott Bay, Puget Sound and Mount Rainier.
Then there was murmuring and discussion with several people on the plane. My seat mate looked at her i- Phone and exclaimed:
“Oh my, a Horizon Airlines employee has taken an empty plane, and he is now flying over Seattle and doesn’t know how to land the plane! He took off at 8:00 PM. “
As we were descending to “Sea-Tac” it was now 9:00 PM.
I must say that this made me nervous.
According to the news article:
“Richard Russell ( “Beebo”), the 29- year old used a machine called a pushback tractor to first maneuver the aircraft, which was in a maintenance area, so he could board and then take off Friday evening August 10 ,2018.
“Video showed the Horizon Air Q400, a turboprop plane that seats 76 people, doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers as the sun set on Puget Sound.
“Two F-15C jet fighters were scrambled from Portland, and pursued the plane; but authorities say that they didn’t fire on it before it crashed on tiny Ketron Island, southwest of Tacoma, Washington. Video showed fiery flames amid trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry. No structures on the ground were damaged by the plane, which sparked a small wildfire. “ ( The Columbian August 12,2018 )
I asked myself the question: why would someone deliberately commandeer a plane, and fly it without having any knowledge of landing the plane and so in turn seal the fate of their death?”
As I sat on the tarmac for a hour and a half, with my fellow passengers, and when I entered the Sea-Tac terminal and saw all of the confusion, chaos and anger expressed by the travelers, I thought:
“the actions of one person can really effect negatively the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people. “
The event that I experienced at Sea-Tac airport that night has taught me again that life is fragile, that there is joy and pain, confusion and wisdom, and yes, there is even a lot of luck that comes in handy.
I feel lucky that Mr. Russell’s plane did not hit my plane, for that matter that he didn’t hit anyone else.
I feel sorry that he ended his life in such said fashion, for he exclaimed:
“I’m a broken guy. “
I wish someone could have helped him with his brokenness.
There will be a lot of” Monday -morning” quarterbacking about this incident. Why wasn’t there better security at the airport to prevent this tragedy? Why wasn’t there better assessment and evaluation procedures to identify problematic individuals who are working in highly- sensitive positions?
Maybe the big takeaway for all of us from this tragedy is that how do we encourage more people to feel free to share what is really happening in their lives, especially the painful and scary experiences, with someone who is willing to listen without judgment and to offer care and concern?
This may be a tall order in our age that worships individual self-reliance and technological prowess.
What I can tell you is that for those of us who were on flight 603 as it descended into the Emerald City, there was concern, compassion and charity that was exhibited in trying to support their fellow travelers.
Maybe that is something we can replicate in other life experiences without having the disastrous outcome of having a human life taken too soon.
May it be so.