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Suicidal Mechanic Steals and Crashes Plane; Race in America; Saudis Promise Investigation into Airstrike on School Bus; U.S.-Turkey Dispute. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired August 11, 2018 - 04:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): We are following the breaking news, an aircraft has crashed near Seattle, Washington, after a mechanic stole it from a maintenance area at Seattle's main airport.

I'm George Howell.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. Welcome to our viewers.

The plane went down on Ketron Island. And we're happy to report no one was hurt or killed on the island. It is about 40 miles or 65 kilometers southwest of the airport. No buildings were hit when the plane crashed. And, again, people are safe that lived on that island.

The aircraft took off without authorization and without any passengers Friday night. The person at the controls of the plane has only been identified as a 29-year-old Horizon Air mechanic from Pierce County, Washington.

HOWELL: It is believed that the mechanic's lack of flying skills led to the crash. He is confirmed to have died in that crash. Pierce County sheriff say this was not a terrorism-related incident. Before the plane went down, radio transmission between the pilot and the control tower was recorded. And we get to hear a bit of it right here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Rich, this is the captain. Congratulations, you did that. Now let's try to land that airplane safely and not hurt anybody on the ground.

RICH, PILOT: All right. I don't know, man, I don't know. I don't want to. I was kind of hoping that would be it, you know.


ALLEN: That was the man flying the plane right there, that is chilling to hear. We're also hearing from the Horizon Air chief operating officer. She issued this statement a short time ago.


CONSTANCE VON MUEHLEN, HORIZON AIR CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Good evening. I'm Constance von Muehlen, Horizon Air chief operating officer. I'm sorry to share with you this evening that at approximately 8 pm, one of our Q400 airplanes made an unauthorized takeoff from SeaTac Airport. We believe it was taken by a single Horizon Air employee and that no other passengers or crew were onboard. Shortly thereafter, it crashed on Ketron Island by South Tacoma.

Our hearts are with the families of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees. We will provide more information as it becomes available. Eyewitnesses are speaking out as well. Listen here as a family recalls exactly what they saw and heard.


HOWELL: Eyewitnesses are speaking out as well. Listen here, as a family recalls exactly what they saw and heard.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were watching the sunset. And we like saw all the planes coming over us. And then -- so I was in their hot tub and we were like and we were just hanging out. And then we heard that boom. And yes.


What did you think of that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't know what it was.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We thought it was something going on with McCord. That's our first thought. So we were sitting in those lounge chairs, watching the sunset. And then we saw the plane and then the jets going right behind it.

And my first thought was they are doing something at McCord. And I'm like, so late at night, you know, and then we heard a third jet and then we kind of were -- sunset was done. We went up to the house.

They were putting everything away down at the pool. And that's when they heard the boom. And I didn't hear that. So then my husband kind of put it all together. He turned it to the news or something. And he is like, that was the plane.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: So you heard there, they thought it had something to do with McChord, which is between Olympia and Tacoma. And military jets we now know scrambled from Portland during this incident. It does not appear that these jets were not involved in the crash.

ALLEN: But they were right there, monitoring the plane and flying very close to it. Let's get more on this from Mary Schiavo, our aviation analyst. She joins us via Skype from Charleston, South Carolina.

Mary, it is so fortunate that no one was hurt in this situation. Other people listening or witnessing were terrified, watching this plane, that it might crash near them.

But let's start with the communication between air traffic control and the mechanic flying a commercial airplane. It is chilling. We've been hearing the clips. He is worried about running out of fuel, he's concerned about getting into trouble.

What do you make of the back-and-forth with the mechanic?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Quite a bit of conversation. It's clearly someone who was used to the airport, used to, I think, the plane. I don't think this was the first flight certainly.

And the communications back-and-forth with the tower, at one point asking if there were other pilots --


SCHIAVO: -- on the line, asking about what kind of chop he would get into over some of the mountain areas.

This went on for quite a period of time. And it did seem like the air traffic controller had some familiarity with him. So as the picture becomes, you know, more and more fleshed out, this is someone who was familiar with the airport.

You know, you almost are tempted to say it was someone who kind of snapped, because he clearly enjoyed the flight, enjoyed the roll and the loop that he performed, was -- sounded anyway, noticeably surprised that he was able to do that loop.

That is difficult do, especially in a twin engine aircraft that is not made do aerobatics. So I think the discussion with the controller is very, very interesting and it sheds a lot of light.

HOWELL: Many people have heard the clip that we just played a moment ago but I want to play a bit more of it, Mary. Obviously, viewers here in the U.S., many people just waking up, again, for this plane that was stolen from SeaTac airport hours ago.

Let's listen to a bit more of that radio transmission between the mechanic and air traffic control.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICH: Yes, that is all mumbo jumbo. I have no idea what all that means. I wouldn't know how to punch it in. I'm off autopilot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not taking it to any jets. I'm actually keeping you away from aircraft that are trying to land at SeaTac.

RICH: Oh, OK, yes, yes. I don't want to screw with that. I'm glad you're not, you know, screwing up everyone else's day on account of me. I'm down to 2,100. I started like 30 something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rich, you say you are at 2,100 pounds of fuel left?

RICH: Yes. I don't know what the burnout is like on takeoff. But, yes, it burned quite a bit faster than I expected.


HOWELL: So just listening there to the tone of this conversation, Mary, it is bizarre, right, to say the least. It is not confrontational. It seems that the mechanic is having a --


HOWELL: -- good time, saying, hey, I hope it doesn't mess things up for others. Bizarre, right, to say the least.

ALLEN: And what does it say about how he was able to get up in the airplane in the first place?

SCHIAVO: Well, and that is very typical because, at airports all over the world, I mean mechanics have the ability to taxi the aircraft. They are qualified for that. That is one of the things that they are allowed do. You have to separately qualify, be able to run and taxi the aircraft.

And so as I understand, in this case, they had taxied it over to a maintenance parking area. And so, once at that point, I mean, he had the ability to move the plane. He knows how to taxi the plane. To me, it sounded like, even from the very early clips, where we saw the loop and the turn, it looked like he had some experience flying.

But here, it is almost like he is experimenting, it's almost like he is doing a science project and talking to the air traffic controller as he experiments with this aircraft. And clearly hadn't thought the ending through because after the barrel roll -- or after the loop, when he said, I thought that would be it, I don't know. To me it just sounds like someone that snapped.

ALLEN: Yes, and you mention that mechanics do test these airplanes, as they are known to taxi at airports.

But what would the scene be when the ground control, the tower, airport police, realize this person is taking off in a commercial plane?

SCHIAVO: Well, they would very concerned, upset and all sorts of alarms would be going off. But the important thing to note is there is very little that they can do. The key is who has access to the planes because you once you're in it and once you know how to start it and taxi it, there is very little that anyone can do to keep you from taking off, other than put, like you see in Hollywood movies, they can put vehicles on the ground in front of the taxi area.

But they wouldn't be expecting that because this person was obviously in -- had the taxi approval. He could taxi planes at the airport.

So once he decides to move off the taxi area and into position on the runway, the controllers were clearly doing the best they could to make sure he didn't interfere with traffic in the air because, obviously, he could have caused a disaster in the air, although all modern passenger aircraft have collision avoidance equipment, automatic collision avoidance equipment.

Now we don't know --


SCHIAVO: -- what he had on, turned on in this plane. But the controllers had to keep not only him and others safe on the ground but, once in the air, they had to keep him away from everybody else.

HOWELL: And there is so much focus and attention on security, people going into airports, passengers getting onto planes.

But look, this really raises another question, another issue that certainly will be fleshed out as this investigation is underway. Mary Schiavo, thank you so much for being with us and we'll keep in touch.

Again, this breaking story, of course, we'll continue to follow it here on CNN.

But another major story to tell you about as this weekend pushes forward, a very grim anniversary. In Charlottesville, Virginia, how that city, traumatized by racists, white nationalists, Nazis, how it is preparing for this weekend. That story ahead here, as NEWSROOM pushes on.




ALLEN: Welcome back.

This could be a very tense weekend in parts of the United States. This weekend marks one year since those violent racist rallies hit the city of Charlottesville, Virginia.


ALLEN: And here we are again. The city is on edge as it prepares for a weekend of more possible protests one year on. The state's governor has even gone as far as declaring a state of emergency.

HOWELL: That's right. And police are stepping up security. They are closing roads ahead of the anniversary of violence in that city, the day that one person who was protesting these white nationalists was killed.

On Sunday, white nationalists and right wing groups plan to come together in Washington for what they call a white civil rights rally. CNN's Randi Kaye reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Jews will not replace us!

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was the scene one year ago this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Dozens of white nationalists carrying torches and shouting racist chance. The protest was in response to the Charlottesville city council's plan to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a nearby park.

Officers were hoping the rally would be peaceful. They were wrong.

By morning, fistfights and screaming matches broke out before the rally even started. Some neo-Nazis carried a guns and chanted "white lives matter."

Both sides fired pepper spray. Police desperately tried to disperse the crowd, declaring it an unlawful assembly. By early afternoon, police were in riot gear.

It turned deadly when around 1:30 pm, a man drove a Dodge Challenger into a crowd of people.

BRENNAN GILMORE, CHARLOTTESVILLE WITNESS: The car deliberately targeting, lining up and then gunning the engine to do maximum damage on the crowd. He smashed into the crowd. Bodies went flying.

KAYE: Photographer Ryan Kelly took these photos at the scene.

RYAN KELLY, CHARLOTTESVILLE WITNESS: Drove over the sidewalk and came barreling down at full speed into the crowd, immediately put it into reverse and reversed at speed back up the hill and took off down the side street.

KAYE: When it was over, 32-year-old Heather Heyer was dead. Dozens of others were injured.

TADRINT WASHINGTON, SURVIVED CHARLOTTESVILLE CRASH: I saw a woman tumbling down on my windshield and just laying there. And I kind of like closed my eyes because I didn't know what I was seeing was real.

MICAH WASHINGTON, SURVIVED CHARLOTTESVILLE CRASH: I remember Heather Heyer being on the ground near the back of my sister's car. There were EMTs all around her, but I remember particularly the EMT that was giving her CPR at the time. He was using all of his might, all of his force to try and revive her.

KAYE: The driver of the car that plowed into the crowd was arrested and charged. He's pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

That same day, two state troopers were killed when their helicopter crashed while patrolling the area.

In response to it all, President Donald Trump didn't denounce the hate groups involved. Instead, he said this.

TRUMP: We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALES: Go away, racist, sexist, anti-gay!

KAYE: The backlash was swift, yet three days later, the president doubled down on his remarks.

TRUMP: You look at both sides, I think there is blame on both sides.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The neo-Nazis started this thing in Charlottesville. They started in --

TRUMP: Excuse me, excuse me. They didn't put themselves down. And you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

KAYE: The images seem to tell a different story -- Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


ALLEN: It was such a horrible day for our country. And so far, President Trump is ignoring the Charlottesville anniversary, at least on Twitter. He is actually tweeting criticism of some athletes, who are making a quiet protest about race relations in this country.

On Friday, Mr. Trump condemned a small group of U.S. football players who kneeled during the national anthem.

HOWELL: The president accuses them of showing fake outrage for something they can't define. But the athletes are explicitly calling attention to racial injustice and inequality in the United States. They say the way Mr. Trump is handling it is making the whole problem worse.

Now from dog whistle statements to comments that seem to give these racist groups a pass, it seems that white nationalists are now emboldened to spread their extremist views.

ALLEN: We have one example. CNN's Sara Sidner has a story of one town that is struggling to figure out how to confront a neighbor who is a neo-Nazi. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the calm of this rural northern Pennsylvania town, a sign that hate lives here.

Are you a neo-Nazi?


I don't try to --


BURNSIDE: -- push it away.

SIDNER: Well, you're wearing a swastika on your shirt.

BURNSIDE: Exactly.

SIDNER: And you've got swastika flags.

Why the flags? Why the shirt? Why these hateful symbols in this town?

BURNSIDE: I don't think they're hateful. I think it's an ideology that has been completely misinterpreted since the Third Reich.

SIDNER: OK, now I've got to stop you.

BURNSIDE: Like I'm a Holocaust denier?


SIDNER: Misinterpreted? Misinterpreted? Six million Jews were killed.

BURNSIDE: No, no, you'll never sell me on that.

SIDNER: There's -- I'm not trying to sell you.


SIDNER: It is reality. It's history. It cannot be denied.

SIDNER: Daniel Burnside is a lightning rod of discord in Ulysses, Pennsylvania, population, 690. With the help of the Internet, his message has spread far and wide, giving his town attention it does not want.

BURNSIDE: Rural America spoke up when they elected Trump, rural America.

SIDNER: And by rural America, he means white America.

BURNSIDE: We're staring down the barrel of a gun here, white America. There are still 193 million white Americans. Yes, the vast majority of them are in their 60s and 70s, will be in the ground in the next 20 years. And therefore, we have the possibility of becoming a minority in our

own country, a possibility of becoming a minority in our own country.

SIDNER: It sounds to me like you're afraid of being me.

And being me --

BURNSIDE: This is my country.

SIDNER: -- is great. This is also my country.

BURNSIDE: You guys didn't win the culture war.

SIDNER: He invited us on his property to talk.

But when he doesn't like our conversation, he explodes.

BURNSIDE: Get the (INAUDIBLE) out of here, now.

SIDNER: We do.

Just down the street, we're met by a dozen residents who say Burnside does not speak for this town.

SIDNER: There are families in this county that blame politics for people like him sort of being able to come out and be very loud.

Is that fair?

IVAN LEHMAN, ULYSSES RESIDENT: Our president we have got right now hasn't helped the situation a whole lot. He's got a lot of the same beliefs. At least he won't speak against them, OK? This guy feeds off that stuff, so.

SIDNER: Among the crowd, many with grandfathers or fathers who fought the Nazis in World War II.

CARM BARKER, ULYSSES RESIDENT: We're good people. And he's stepping on us. He's stepping on all us. We are all one -- we're all one tribe. And who does he think he his?

SIDNER: Teacher Debbie Hamilton says she just returned from touring concentration camps in Poland.

DEBBIE HAMILTON, ULYSSES RESIDENT: One of the things that we spent a lot of time talking about was passive resistance versus active resistance.

SIDNER: So far, they've chosen passive resistance with Burnside.

On the other side of Potter County, Joe and Seshena Leschner are convinced passive resistance is the wrong choice.

JOE LESCHNER, FORMER POTTER COUNTY RESIDENT: I'm not saying you should go to their houses with pitchforks and guns. I'm saying, hold a peaceful protest against them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Neighborhood Watch.

SIDNER: After seeing KKK flyers appearing in their neighborhood and Burnside's decorations in their county, Joe did protest, only to receive a threat by one of the supremacists he stood against.

J. LESCHNER: They would look at me and give me the finger and even make a little gestures like they were going to shoot me.

SIDNER: Joe says the racial hatred intensified when his Jamaican bride arrived.


SIDNER: In their mind, if more people stood up against hate, the racists would be forced to leave and let love stand -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Ulysses, Pennsylvania.


HOWELL: Let's bring in politics and pop culture journalist, Jarrett Hill, joining us from Los Angeles.

Jarrett, thank you for your time today. Looking at that piece from Sara Sidner, it shows examples of hate that seem to be more overt. And this weekend, hate will be on parade in the nation's capital.

I've got a 3-year-old son and I worry about what he sees and what he hears on a weekend like this.

But what are your thoughts about the feeling and the tone of hate in America right now?

JARRETT HILL, POLITICS AND POP CULTURE JOURNALIST: I think we have to really pause ourselves for a moment and think about the fact that we're having a frank, uncomfortable, contentious conversation with Nazis on a regular basis right now because the President of the United States is not even comfortable saying like what they are saying is bad, what they are doing is wrong, the things that they believe are not American values.

And we're having to take these ideas very seriously because they are coming from all over the place. And we're in a time right now, where all of these kinds of ideas are feeling -- people with these ideas are feeling empowered and emboldened to be able to come out say whatever it is that they want to say and go to Washington, D.C., on the one year anniversary of Charlottesville.

I think it is a really, really terrible, despicable time for us in America.

HOWELL: And what is unexpected at this point, what is to happen could happen in Charlottesville and what we know will happen in Washington, D.C., this weekend, we have to go back one year, to the days after the violence.

When asked to clarify the false equivalence that he suggested, Mr. Trump, between protesters and Nazis, again, Nazis that lost World War II, here is what Mr. Trump had to say back then.


TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me. You had some very bad people --


TRUMP: -- in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.


HOWELL: That was then and now this is now. Here we are a year later.

What do you expect?

HILL: I have the very lowest of expectations and the highest of hopes. I think that this president has shown us time and time again that we can't rely on him to be our moral compass.

He's shown us that we can't rely on him to be a sounding board for what is logical or what is reasonable, what is -- or even comforting to America, in a time where we have Nazis that are literally coming to Washington, D.C., to protest or to celebrate or to commemorate what happened in Charlottesville.

HOWELL: There has not been a peep out of the White House getting out ahead of this story at this point. It does seem that their strategy is to wait and see if they are forced to do so.

But how important is it, in your view, for the President of the United States to make a clear statement denouncing these hate groups?

HILL: To be very honest with you, I think it would be really great if the president came out and said, I don't support this, I don't believe in this, I don't affirm this behavior.

But I don't even know that I would buy it at this point. We've sat with Donald Trump since June of 2015 as a presidential candidate and even before that, with the birtherism and all of those things.

So him coming out right now and saying, oh, this is bad, or, oh, they shouldn't be doing this, I don't even know that I could buy it at this point because we've had so much come before it. He's had so many opportunities come before that he has walked by and not said anything.

I don't even know that I would be able to embrace it or accept it as something that would be genuine because it would be so counter to everything that has come before it. Although this is a president who is known for saying things that are directly contradictory to the previous thing that he said before. HOWELL: Mr. Trump again turning attention to football players kneeling. He says it is about disrespecting the flag and soldiers, which rallies his base. We know, however, those protests whether one agrees with them or not are really about highlighting social injustice.

But let's listen to Mr. Trump as he leans in on the issue, which, again, rallies his base.


TRUMP: Get that (INAUDIBLE) off the field right now.


HOWELL: Given the tone of what you just heard there, given what we know could happen this weekend, do you see this president as having the ability to pull a nation together on such a critical issue like race?

HILL: I wish that I even believed that was a priority for this president. I don't believe that this president cares about that. I think this president has shown us, since the day he took office or even the day of the election that he had no interest in bringing people over from the other side, of meeting people in the middle, of even having a dialogue with people who did not vote for him.

He has shown us that loyalty to him -- and loyalty to him looks like being at the ballot box and voting for him. Loyalty to him means affirming everything he does and praising him when you are in person with him.

We have seen that time and time again, that his priorities lie with those people. So the idea that he would come out and say something or try to unify us is something that is so far -- that is so beyond the reach, I believe, of this president, that it is hard to even really expect that from the president.

And it is really difficult because, in times like this, where we know a major protest like this is about to happen, these are times when we're nervous about what could happen. And this isn't even a president that we could turn to, to comfort us, should something go wrong.

And I -- God forbid anything go wrong. But this isn't someone that we can trust in those kinds of moments.

HOWELL: Jarrett Hill, thank you so much for your time and perspective.

HILL: Sure thing.

HOWELL: Again in Washington, D.C., they are expecting to see that neo-Nazi rally happen there. Not sure what happens in Charlottesville. But what we do typically see are more people come out to protest against them. ALLEN: Yes, exactly. And that is when things go awry. Of course, we'll be covering it this weekend.

Our top story, a commercial airplane is stolen in Seattle. We'll play the air traffic control official, trying to get the man in the cockpit to land the plane for you -- as we come back here. CNN NEWSROOM continues right after this.





ALLEN: Welcome back. This is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. Following the breaking news this hour, on the U.S. West Coast, a turbo prop plane crashed near Seattle, Washington, after an airline mechanic stole it from a maintenance area at Seattle's main airport, SeaTac airport.

ALLEN: It is an unreal story we've been covering here. Really, it could have been so much worse, too. The plane did go down on Ketron Island, that's southwest of the airport, killing the pilot.

A few people live on that island. Thankfully, no one on the ground was hurt. The aircraft took off without authorization and, thankfully as well, without any passengers on that plane on Friday night.

HOWELL: And here is what we know about the person at the controls of that plane. Only identified as a 29-year-old Horizon Air mechanic from Pierce County, Washington. This according to officials.

We also just received some of the radio transmissions from the tower. Apparently the mechanic on that plane making some really dangerous stunts there, surprising that he could do it. Let's listen.


CAPTAIN BILL, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL: All right, Rich, this is Captain Bill. Congratulations, you did that. Now let's try to land that airplane safely and not hurt anybody on the ground.

RICH, PILOT: All right. Damn it, I don't know, man, I don't know. I don't want to. I was kind of hoping that would be it, you know.


HOWELL: In that clip you get a sense of the tone of this mechanic who stole that aircraft from SeaTac. We understand that military jets scrambled from Portland, Oregon, during the incident. But it does not appear that these jets were involved in the crash itself.

ALLEN: We still don't know how it crashed or why it crashed. He indicated that he was worried about fuel. The Pierce County sheriff is also stressing this was not linked to terrorism.

Let's get more analysis now. Alan Diehl is a former accident investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, which will be investigating this crash, and for the FAA, the Federal Aviation Administration. He is on the phone from New Mexico.

Alan, thank you for talking with us. The conversation really between the tower and this mechanic flying this plane is chilling. And you can certainly understand the measured reaction, with the control tower there, just trying to encourage him to land this plane.

What do you make of it?


ALAN DIEHL, FORMER ACCIDENT INVESTIGATOR, NTSB: Well, Natalie, I certainly agree. This controller almost sounds like a hostage negotiator, like an FBI-trained hostage negotiator.

He is talking to the guy, he's trying to calm him down, trying to get him to land. At one point, he talks about landing at a military base there. He was only like a mile away at that time.

And the mechanic said that, I guess it would be jail for life. So at different times, when you listen to all of the recordings that have been released, it sounds like he goes almost bipolar, where he is happy at one time and then he is talking about disappointing people on the ground and jail for life and so on. So it is bizarre, to say the least.

And, of course, this is one of the best arguments for effective employee assistance programs. As you know, I'm a research psychologist, not a therapist. But I just wonder if anybody with Horizon even suspected that this guy was going unstable.

ALLEN: Right, because mechanics don't even get the scrutiny, we've been hearing from aviation officials, that passengers get.

HOWELL: And certainly you would imagine in the investigation they will be speaking with his colleagues, people that work with him, to get a sense of who he was, trying to get into his mind.

But, Alan, let's listen to a bit more of that audio. Because again, getting a sense of the tone of this mechanic, his feeling about stealing a plane from SeaTac. It is bizarre, to say the least. Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICH: Yes, that is all mumbo jumbo. I have no idea what all that means. I wouldn't know how to punch it in. I'm off autopilot.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not taking it to any jets. I'm actually keeping you away from aircraft that are trying to land at SeaTac. RICH: Oh, OK, yes, yes. I don't want to screw with that. I'm glad you're not, you know, screwing up everyone else's day on account of me. I'm down to 2,100. I started like 30 something.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rich, you say you are at 2,100 pounds of fuel left?

RICH: Yes. I don't know what the burnout is like on takeoff. But, yes, it burned quite a bit faster than I expected.


HOWELL: So, again, we heard from this mechanic on the plane there. You get a sense of how he felt about stealing a plane from SeaTac, flying it, taking it for what seems to be a joyride in his mind.

But here is the bigger question at this point. A mechanic who stole a plane, we understand that mechanics, many of them have what is called run and taxi qualification, meaning that they can take a plane, they can move it along the taxiway. You know, that is within the realm of their ability.

So do you think that that will be scrutinized a bit more, given what we saw happen at SeaTac?

Because it does seem, Alan, like a security issue.

DIEHL: That is very interesting. Alaska Airlines just minutes ago announced that he technically wasn't a mechanic, he was a ground service person who helped -- he's one of those guys that helps direct the airplanes to parking and deicing them. So he actually didn't have a license, what they call an AMP, airplane and power plant license.


HOWELL: Wait just a minute. Repeat that again.

ALLEN: He's not a mechanic?

DIEHL: Alaska Airlines has announced that he was a ground service agent, I believe is the exact words they used. I just heard this maybe in the last hour. But basically, he is a service personnel who has access to the aircraft, George, your point. And I think that there will have to be more scrutiny on this.

But clearly, other than perhaps better employee assistance programs -- now, I do believe -- I know mechanics, controllers and pilots all have to go through random drug testing. That is one of the things that occurred to me. This guy almost sounds like he might be high on something at times in those recordings.

But employee assistance programs are critical. But other than that, I just don't know how you can -- I guess you could put locks on all the aircraft and control the keys somehow. I'm in a military flying club and we did that with our little Cessnas. But I don't know if that's -- [04:40:00]

DIEHL: -- I guess it would be feasible on bigger airplanes but I just don't know if that is in the works. But I'm sure they will be looking at that. And clearly the FBI will lead this investigation. The NTSB will be assisting them.

But one thing I would say, one of the great mysteries is, did he actually want to commit suicide?

Depends on where in that tape, where in the tapes that have been released you are listening as to whether or not he has decided this is not going to end well and he may be contemplating suicide.

But the black boxes will probably be able to tell whether or not he pushed the nose over of the aircraft and, you know, literally ended the flight.

Or was it some kind of mismanagement of the controls and therefore an accident?

HOWELL: Alan, passing along some information that we will, of course, need to confirm through our sources here at CNN, but suggesting that this is not a mechanic. And that is really important. That is why I stopped you there in your tracks because, again, this is a person, you know, a mechanic would typically have that run and taxi qualification.

So if that is not the case --

ALLEN: That means this person somehow knew how to take off the runway and take this airplane into flight. So we'll continue to -- of course, so many questions to be answered. Thank you so much.

DIEHL: It is evolving obviously. It sure. But even a ground service agent would have access. And a ground controller and the tower would not know whether or not this guy is a mechanic or a ground service agent. So if he said I'm going to taxi the airplane into the runway in for maintenance purposes, I can't manage that they would --


HOWELL: -- would have access but I guess the question is ability. That is the surprise here. So, Alan, thank you for being with us. We'll, of course, continue to wait, as authorities pass along information. And certainly we will be tracking that information down as well. Thank you for your time.

ALLEN: Thank you, Alan.

Saudi Arabia promises an investigation into an airstrike in Yemen that killed dozens of children on their way to a camp.

HOWELL: The very latest on that tragic incident is coming up after this short break. Please stay with us.




ALLEN: The Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen in an ongoing war there says it will open its own investigation into an airstrike Thursday that hit a school bus filled with children in the northern part of the country.

HOWELL: The U.N. Security Council is demanding a, quote, "credible, transparent investigation." The coalition, which is backed by the United States, defended the airstrike as a, quote, "legitimate military operation" against Houthi rebels.

The bloodied, battered bodies of dozens of small children, they tell a very different story.

ALLEN: Absolutely.

When is it OK to hit a school bus?

We must warn you, the images you are about to see are just horrible but there is no sanitizing the reality of what is happening in Yemen, a war that has been virtually ignored. Here is our Nima Elbagir with more.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are new images emerging from Yemen, images that really bring home the heartbreak of the aftermath of the strike by the Saudi-led, U.S.- backed coalition in that Northern Yemeni province of Saada.

The first video shows a father living through every parent's worst nightmare, desperately trying to find where his son is.

And this video, this tells the opposite side of that heartbreak, a father finding his son's body. The absolute and utter heartbreak in that man's voice brings to life what so many of those parents are struggling to live through.

This as the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, released a statement, saying that this was the single worst incident so far targeting children in Yemen's three-year ongoing civil war, a war between the Saudi-led coalition and Iranian-backed Houthi rebel militias, with the support of both the U.S. and the U.K. and, in many cases, their armaments, President Donald Trump back in June was touting a $110 billion arms deal.

And many observers believe that is why, while there has been limited calls for investigation, notably by the U.S. State Department but also by the U.N. secretary-general, there hasn't been the outrage that would be expected in the face of such an incident. Even while parents were struggling to bury their dead, the airstrikes

in Yemen continue. Eyewitnesses tell CNN, in just one district in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa alone, there were 21 airstrikes through to the morning after the attack.

The war, it seems, continues and humanitarian agencies are worried that, with it, will continue the suffering of Yemen's children -- Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.







HOWELL: Welcome back.

The U.S. president admits that relations with fellow NATO member, Turkey, are, quote, "not good at this time." And here is why. The United States is increasing tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum.

ALLEN: And take a look at the tariff's effect on the Turkish currency, the lira. It has plummeted as much as 17 percent to an all- time low versus the dollar as a result of this. And that prompted president Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to ask his citizens to exchange any dollars, euros or gold they may have into lira.

The increase comes as the U.S. demands Turkey release an American pastor. Turkey accuses Andrew Brunson of having ties to those behind a 2016 coup attempt. They have not released him as a result. Let's get perspective on this from Steven Erlanger. He's diplomatic correspondent at "The New York Times."

Steven, thank you. Such an unusual situation to say the least. The U.S. president starts a trade war over a U.S. pastor being held by an ally.

What do you make of it?

STEVEN ERLANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, you are right. It is strange. If we're going to start using sanctions against allies, it will make our friends very, very nervous. Trump is angry at Erdogan, he thought he had a deal for Brunson to be released.

Vice President Pence, who is an evangelical, is very wrapped up in the Brunson case, as is Secretary of State Pompeo.

And Trump feels Erdogan broke his word and did not release Brunson, instead put him under house arrest. So he is retaliating, trying to force Turkey to bend and release Brunson. There are other Americans also being held. But Brunson seems to be the case here. It is a sharp use of American economic power, just as with Iran.

ALLEN: What could be the ramifications, where does this put the U.S. and Turkey relationship?

It was already rocky before this.

ERLANGER: Well, it was rocky. And it was rocky for lots of reasons. One is Erdogan is increasingly authoritarian. He has been asking for the extradition of a man called Gulen who's in Pennsylvania, who he believes is behind the coup, which may or may not be true. And the Turks have been cozying up to the Russians.

And the Turks are also very angry with the Americans supplying arms to Kurds in Syria, who the Turks regard as terrorists who want to break away from parts of Turkey, too. So it is a complicated mess. But it is coming to a real issue for NATO, I think.


ALLEN: Yes, that will be very interesting how NATO responds for this situation.

The currency, as we mentioned, has plummeted, so Turkey's economy is faltering.

Could it have economic ramifications extending beyond Turkey?

Could this hurt other countries?

ERLANGER: It certainly could because there are a lot of European banks, who have loaned money to Turkey. Turkey already needs help from the IMF. Its economy has been tanking before this. It has too much debt. And the economy has been slowing down.

So that the other issue the Americans have, the other leverage is the IMF itself, because the Americans can either help Turkey through the IMF or can block the IMF from helping Turkey.

So the E.U. is also watching it. The European Central Bank is also a little nervous about what is going to happen with the loans from European banks.

ALLEN: Steven Erlanger, as always thank you for your analysis. We appreciate it. We'll continue to for him the story of course.

ERLANGER: Thanks, Natalie.

HOWELL: The day's top stories and the breaking news we're following on the West Coast, just ahead here. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. We'll be right back. Stay with us.