Sheriff's department spokesman Ed Troyer also confirmed that two U.S. Air Force F-15s intercepted the plane within minutes of its departure from Sea-Tac, but they were not involved in its crash near Ketron Island.
The employee has been identified as a 29-year-old Pierce County resident.
The aircraft crashed on Ketron Island in Puget Sound. Authorities say that this is not an incident of terrorism.
The US Coast Guard said the plane was stolen and was seen flying around Puget Sound at one point, NBC News reported.
"I think I am going to try to do a barrel roll and if that goes well then I am going to go nose down and call it a night".
Then the pilot "pulled - pretty much straight up and kind of at an angle and nearly stalled the aircraft". He knew something was off, he said Friday night. Moments later they heard an explosion.
Black smoke was spotted pouring from the crash site.
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The wooded area is hard to access, and because there are no fire engines on the island, everything has to get to there via ferry, Adams said. No one was injured on the ground, authorities said.
The sheriff said earlier that the employee was a airline mechanic, but the airline said he was a ground service agent.
It crashed near Ketron Island in Pierce County, the airline tweeted, adding that "we believe" nobody besides the man was on board. They said there were no passengers on board. "We frequently get involved with matters related to aircraft so we are poised to act if information develops to suggest a federal criminal nexus". Rescue boats were headed to the scene. There is no word about the recovery of the man inside the crashed plane.
"The FAA is not a security agency, although we work closely with other government agencies on security issues".
- Kai Simpson (@Kai_AHS) August 11, 2018Some dude stole a plane from #Seatac (Allegedly), did a loop-the-loop, nearly crashed into #ChambersBay, then crossed in front of our party, chased by fighter jets and subsequently crashed. We have police boats, we have everybody responding. "We are sending resources and people". The airport said operations have since returned to normal.
The FBI has taken over the investigation into the crash, according to KIRO.
On the air-traffic control feed, the air-traffic controller can be heard trying to persuade the man, who he addressed as Rich and Richard, to land safely at a nearby airstrip.
"I've got a lot of people that care about me".