How does an airline employee in America, who is not a pilot gain access to the cockpit of a commercial airplane?

The man who hijacked an Alaska Airlines plane in Seattle on Friday night taking it for a joyride before crashing on an island in a ball of flames is a married 29-year-old Horizon Air employee who dreamed of joining the military.

The mechanic, referred to as ‘Rich’ and ‘Richard’ by air traffic controllers, was born in Key West, Florida and moved to Alaska as a child.

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He met his wife in Oregon in 2010 while they were in school and married one year later. The newlyweds then opened a bakery together, which is now closed. They moved to Seattle in 2015.

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While living in Seattle, Rich started working for Horizon Airlines with the hopes of working in a management position. He also had dreams of becoming an officer in the military.

His main role at the airport was to unload bags, and seems to have had no flying experience. He was also not permitted to fly planes.

His condition after the crash wasn’t immediately known.

During the hijacking Friday night at Seattle-Tacoma Airport, Rich joked with air traffic controllers for more than 20 minutes before crashing it into an island 25 miles away.

The 29-year-old employee took off in the 76-seater Horizon Air turboprop Q400 about 8pm after he took it from a maintenance area.

Two F-15 fighter jets scrambled from Portland ‘minutes’ after the plane took off to intercept it, according to Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

Witnesses described seeing the aircraft performing barrel rolls and loop-the-loops as the military planes directed it away from highly-populated areas and towards Ketron Island, where it crashed into a ball of flame. –Daily Mail

How easy is it for airline employees to gain security clearance at our airports?

Are U.S. airports doing enough to keep Americans safe from the people they employ?

In 2014, it was discovered that a Somali-American who worked at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was killed while fighting for ISIS in Syria.

Abdirahmaan Muhumed

Abdirahmaan Muhumed, a Somali man, had a job cleaning planes for the airport — a position that gave him security clearance as well as access to the tarmac and airplanes, according to sources who spoke to Fox 9. Two former employees confirmed working with him at a subsidiary of Delta Airlines.

According to the Star Tribune, an estimated 1,000 Somalis work at the airport.


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