Richard Russell Described as "Warm, Compassionate Man"

Richard Russell, the man who stole a passenger aircraft from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, is now being revealed as a "warm, compassionate man."

Russell, a ground services worker for Horizon Air, was able to get access to the plane because part of his job was to drive the tractor that backed the aircraft into position for takeoff.  

How he was able to climb aboard the 76-seat plane and take off without raising suspicion is still unknown.

Russell took the plane for a joy ride, flying loops over Puget Sound and had bizarre chats with air traffic controllers who calmly talked to him and tried to get him to land the plane safely. With two Air Force F-15 jets chasing him, he crashed into Ketron Island, 25 miles southwest of the airport, an hour after taking off. 

Online, Russell appeared to have it all together. He had a happy marriage with his wife Hannah, he was often grinning in selfies and openly talked about his aspirations in life. There really was no digital trail of warning signs that Russell could be capable of pulling off a stunt like this. 

Saturday evening, the Russell family released a statement saying they were "stunned and heartbroken" over the incident and the loss of their relative who they called "Beebo."

“It may seem difficult for those watching at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm, compassionate man. It is impossible to encompass who he was in a press release. He was a faithful husband, a loving son, and a good friend,” the family said in the statement. “Beebo’s intent was not to harm anyone and he was right in saying that there are so many people who loved him."

Russell told air traffic controllers that he was a “broken guy” with a “few screws loose,” but also that he wanted to avoid injuring innocent people.

Authorities described him as "suicidal" however his family's statement did not mention any potential mental health issues.

Some internet users call Russell a "Sky King" saying he "seemed like a nice guy and a hell of a natural pilot.”

Others say it was wrong to glorify him for the crazy stunt that could have injured or killed people. 

Russell is believed to have died in the fiery crash but nobody else in the sky or on land was injured. 

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