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Suicidal Mechanic Steals and Crashes Plane; Race in America; Saudis Promise Investigation into Airstrike on School Bus; Massive Mendocino Complex Fire Grows. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired August 11, 2018 - 05:00   ET




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

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): 4:59 am on the East Coast. Following the breaking news. An aircraft crashed near Seattle, Washington, after an airline ground service agent stole it from a maintenance area at Seattle's main airport, SeaTac airport. I'm George Howell.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and all around the world.

Yes, it is a bizarre and tragic story we've been covering for hours now, the plane went down on Ketron Island southwest of the airport, killing the pilot. No one on the ground was hurt. And some people did live on that small island.

The aircraft took off Friday night without authorization and thankfully without anyone else on that plane. Authorities identify the person controlling it as a 29-year-old Horizon Air ground service agent, who is from Pierce County, Washington.

HOWELL: The Pierce County sheriff says this was not a terrorism- related incident. Before the plane went down, radio transmission between this person flying the plane and the control tower was recorded. Listen closely and you get a sense of what he was thinking.


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.


ALLEN: That is the man flying the plane. He did a loop, a very dangerous maneuver on a turbo prop plane that he was up there flying, seeming, as you can hear, in a strange situation. We heard a short time ago from the chief operating officer for Horizon Air. Here's her statement.


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: Military jets, we understand, scrambled from Portland, Oregon, to the incident. They were flying really fast to get there. It does appear the jets were not involved in the crash itself.

ALLEN: We have with us now an eyewitness on the phone from Tacoma, Washington. Irwin Downs (ph) joins us this hour.

Irwin (ph), you were on a golf course when you saw this plane flying around. Tell us about it.

IRWIN DOWNS (PH), EYEWITNESS: I was jogging for about 10 minutes and I looked up and I thought, this plane was too low. I thought it was coming from a local airport but it was coming from SeaTac. And I thought maybe it was carrying somebody from the government because I had seen two F-15 fighter jets behind it. Maybe it's nothing big.

As I'm jogging around a bank, I see the plane start banking right, like towards the island. There's a little gap between the water and the land, if you look in my video. You can see the land to the left and you can see the little island, where the plane actually crashed.

So as I'm walking around the corner, I look down for a second and I hear a loud bang and I look at my friends and I'm like, that plane just crashed. When I came around the corner, literally, one second later, I'd seen a big cloud of smoke and flames. And I started filming it on Snapchat.

ALLEN: What were you thinking?

Were you afraid at some point when you realized something is going on here?

DOWNS (PH): When the plane was flying low I thought they were just trying to get a close look at the golf course, because that is where the U.S. Open was. I thought they were just trying to get a close glimpse of the course.

And when I saw the F-15s, I was like, oh, maybe it was nothing bad. But if I didn't see the F-15s, I was like, yo, something is going wrong because he started descending --


DOWNS (PH): -- when he started banking up towards the right. And after that I was like, oh, nothing's wrong.

HOWELL: Irwin (ph), you saw this up close and personal. We're looking at some of the video you took as you're explaining it.

But, again, you were able to read the numbers and letters, right?

DOWNS (PH): Yes, I can actually see it is an Alaskan Horizon plane and I knew it was too low for comfort. The pilot was doing tricks. So I thought he was an experienced pilot and having security and it was the president or something I don't know who was in town.

But when I saw F-15s I was more comfortable with it. We made a joke, what if it's something bigger than what we think it is?

And then the bang was like, it was an indication something was wrong.

HOWELL: Irwin (ph), I'll ask you to explain sort of the landscape there in the Seattle-Tacoma area, these islands. We understand these F-15 scramble from Portland, Oregon. And they guided this plane to an area that is remote enough. People live there on Ketron Island, right across from Steilacoom, right, near the Tacoma Narrows (ph) bridge.

But at the same time, this is an area that is quite remote, yes?

DOWNS (PH): Yes. And Steilacoom was, I think, so I was like, why are they so low flying into Steilacoom?

There's no airports, there's nowhere to land that plane. But when I seen them ascending, I was like, oh, they're probably just going back up. But I was like a Horizon shouldn't be coming out of (INAUDIBLE) airport. That had to come out of SeaTac.

So there is nothing really there for that plane to land. So it is kind of a weird situation. Everybody stopped and looked up and said, why is that plane so low?

Literally too low. ALLEN: Well, it's a very fortunate situation that nobody else was hurt as this plane was flying erratically and doing tricks. Irwin Downs (ph), we appreciate you talking with us about what you experienced. Thank you so much.

Let's bring in now Mary Schiavo, she's CNN's aviation analyst. She joins us via Skype.

HOWELL: Mary, I just want to make sure our viewers get a clear picture because when you hear that transmission between air traffic control and this ground service agent, who apparently stole this plane, it really leaves a lot of questions, right?

Let's listen to a bit more and we can talk about it here on the other side.


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: Mary, from the tone there, it sounds like he's having a good old time. Again, he stole an aircraft from SeaTac airport and we understand this is a ground service agent.

Mary, am I correct, that is the person who brings the plane in?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It can be. That's not who is typically allowed to run and taxi a plane. Usually it is a mechanic that has the official ability to taxi planes around airports.

There are accidents that happen from planes hitting each other taxiing. A few years ago, a mechanic ran a plane off the runway or off the taxiway in Florida. So you just don't let anyone taxi at the airport because there's so much potential for someone to be hurt.

But the latest word of, saying it is a service agent, not an ANP mechanic, that is very troubling that that person had the ability to get access to the plane and was on the plane by himself and could do that. That would raise a lot of security flags.

ALLEN: How much knowledge would he to have to have of flying to be able to take off in a turbo prop plane down a runway?

SCHIAVO: He had some knowledge of flying. I mean, he has to. First of all, it's not like the small planes you start flying on. I mean, we all start on the single engine, nonretractable landing gear.

So I've listed; there are 25 minutes of air traffic control transmissions and communications and I've listened to them all. And, clearly, this person had some knowledge of flying but not a lot.

One thing that jumped out at me is the air traffic controllers were trying to give him a heading to make sure he didn't get into other traffic and harm other planes and that he didn't get into the mountains, where air traffic control could no longer communicate with him. He'd be beyond their range.

So they are trying to give him a heading to head back towards closer communication. But they wanted to put him over water --


SCHIAVO: -- and they told him to set his heading using something we call the bugs and he wasn't familiar with those. So that gave me concern that perhaps he was not an ANP mechanic, what was a ground service agent.

But he had some knowledge of flying and he was able to do -- to coordinate two engines. It's a twin engine plane. Do turns, follow headings, watch his altitude and fuel burn. He had some experience.

HOWELL: I'm familiar with that particular type of plane. I worked in the Seattle-Tacoma area and remember that is the type of plane that they used from SeaTac to go to Spokane. Used a lot regionally.

But the greater question here, Mary, if we understand a ground service agent was able to get access to this plane, does it raise some serious security issues, questions about, you know, making sure there is more regulation around that?

SCHIAVO: Sure. A lot of these questions are not new. A lot of these questions were asked after September 11, 2001. For example, in the investigation, you know, by Congress, by the 9/11 Commission and then, you know -- I was involved in the litigation investigation and the litigation of that for 12 years.

And we learned things like, for example, the same key opened all the Boeing planes, just little things like that that we learned.

So there were a lot of things that can be done for security on the ground. But we tend, as a nation, to look at the last attack. So we're worried about hijackers using a plane as a tactical weapon. You notice that's one of the first things the law enforcement says, it wasn't terrorism.

Well, people having a mental crisis or a drug crisis can do damage just like a terrorist, too. So that will be a question, too.

What are we really protecting at airports?

It has to be a multi-layer of security against all kinds of threats, foreign and domestic.

ALLEN: Until they figure this out, give us a sense of what was happening at SeaTac airport, once the officials, the tower, the ground team realize that a plane is taxiing and could be taking off? What would they do to try to prevent it?


SCHIAVO: Very little they can do. We've all seen in Hollywood stunt movies where they surround the taxiing plane with cars and trucks and fuel trucks and try to stop it from taking off.

But in reality, if this person was moving the plane, the biggest question is going to be how someone, if they were or were not authorized to run and taxi the plane, how they got access to that plane alone without someone else.

But once a person's taxiing and heading onto the runway, there's very little you can do to stop a plane from taking off. They're going to go. Once they rev the engines and they're rolling down the runway, they're going.

HOWELL: Mary, just another question, given what we've seen, these really erratic but dangerous and challenging maneuvers that this ground service agent was performing as the pilot of this plane, what do you make of his ability?

You say, clearly, he has the ability to fly a plane. But in a plane like that, doing stunts like we're seeing?

SCHIAVO: That plane is not built to do barrel rolls or loops. Now I've listened to the air traffic control tape and he was attempting to do a roll but it turned into a loop. So he didn't have aerobatic training. But he was able to do a coordinated turn and he was able to control a twin engine aircraft, so you have to coordinate the engines.

He was able to retract the landing gear; that is very important. So he had just enough knowledge to be dangerous.


ALLEN: Yes. And something was very wrong with this person for sure.


ALLEN: And a lot to be learned. Mary Schiavo, thank you for helping us understand it and the issues involved. Thank you.

HOWELL: Thank you, Mary.

ALLEN: Coming up, a grim anniversary in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend. The city was traumatized by white nationalist protests that turned deadly last year. The city is on edge with this one-year anniversary. More about that ahead here.



[05:15:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)

ALLEN: On Sunday white nationalists and right-wing groups plan to come together in the nation's capital for what they call a white civil rights rally. It will come on the anniversary of the violent racist protest we saw in Charlottesville, Virginia, a year ago that turned deadly.

Now that city is on edge as it prepares for a weekend of possible protests there as well. The state's governor has even declared a state of emergency already.

HOWELL: Many people criticize President Trump for not speaking out firmly. Clearly enough against white nationalists and neo-Nazis. Last year, a young woman died when a car plowed into a group of people protesting those white nationalists. Her name, Heather Heyer. Her mother spoke to CNN about what President Trump should to do to ease the tensions.


SUSAN BRO, HEATHER HEYER'S MOTHER: I always have three pieces of advice for Trump and for anybody. Same advice I gave to fourth graders and to myself. Think before you speak, always tell the truth and be accountable for your actions.

But the problems didn't begin with Trump and they're not going to end with Trump. We have to acknowledge that and look inside ourselves to fix the problem.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: With everything you've seen this year, with all the work you've done and all the people you've talked to, do you believe that people can truly change?


BRO: I do.

CAMEROTA: And are they willing to?

BRO: I do. I do see individuals change. They're sort of like infants, in a way, that they're not sure where to put that foot, where to step. And I'm trying to coach people, trying to encourage people, trying to teach people to think in the immediate, think in the practical, think of direct action. Don't have such lofty ideas that you never act on them.


HOWELL: Charlottesville's mayor told CNN's Kate Bolduan why she thinks the president is a racist.


CHARLOTTESVILLE MAYOR: When you're comfortable with spewing that kind of hate, as 45 appears to be, then it definitely is causing turmoil within the community and making people feel very comfortable with subjecting others to that level of hate.


HOWELL: Explaining, again, why she feels the president eggs on racism. And it is certainly that people are concerned about as we watch to see what happens in Washington, D.C. and Charlottesville.

In the meantime the U.S. president is using Twitter to take a stand against a different set of protesters. On Friday, he condemned a small group of U.S. football players who kneel during the national anthem.

ALLEN: The athletes are calling attention to racial injustice and inequality and they say the way Mr. Trump is handling it is making this whole problem worse. For more about it, here's CNN's Jake Tapper.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Few acts can prompt a presidential tweet as predictably as an NFL player protesting racial --


TAPPER (voice-over): -- injustice during the national anthem.

After some football players took knees and raised fists during preseason games last night, President Trump embrace what he believes is a winning issue for him, notwithstanding how divisive it is, sounding off on Twitter, saying players, quote, "wanted to show their outrage at something that most of them are unable to define. Find another way to protest," unquote.

Of course, plenty of players, including Philadelphia Eagle Malcolm Jenkins, who raised his fist Thursday, have defined their motivations, often and in detail.

MALCOLM JENKINS, PHILADELPHIA EAGLES: I don't see how we should somehow be quiet when we want to talk about racial equality or inequality and social justice.

TAPPER: The president's campaign against NFL players staging these civil rights protests began in September 2017.

TRUMP: Get that son of a (INAUDIBLE) field right now.

TAPPER: According to sworn testimony from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the president in a private conversation had told him that the issue was, quote, "a very winning, strong issue for him," adding, "This one lifts me."

But critics cry it lifts up bigotry as well.

CORNELL WILLIAM BROOKS, PRESIDENT, NAACP: Our commander in chief is in fact the racial opportunist in chief in this country. TAPPER: All this as we approach the one-year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, after which the president failed to denounce its racist attendees clearly, decisively and without any moral equivalencies between neo-Nazis and those protesting neo-Nazis.

TRUMP: I think there's blame on both sides and I have no doubt about it.

TAPPER: Critics and many prominent African-American say hateful racial rhetoric has only amplified since.

SPIKE LEE, DIRECTOR: Since this guy's got in the White House, it's not even a dog whistle. It's a bullhorn.

TAPPER: Racists seem to be more comfortable coming out of the shadows, such as this neo-Nazi telling CNN's Sara Sidner why he voted for President Trump.

DANIEL BURNSIDE, ULYSSES RESIDENT: Rural America spoke up when they elected Trump. We have the possibility of becoming a minority in our own country, a possibility of becoming a minority in our own country.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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.

TAPPER: That culture war rages on.

D.L. HUGHLEY, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: Our country is being torn apart. There is -- there is a spirit in this country that is so vile, I don't even know if America can -- I don't think we can come back from that.

TAPPER: The conversations can be difficult. Kanye West was once quick to pounce on perceived racism from the White House after Hurricane Katrina.

KANYE WEST, MUSICIAN: George Bush doesn't care about black people.

TAPPER: But West now considers himself a Trump supporter. And last night he had trouble answering this simple question from Jimmy Kimmel.

JIMMY KIMMEL, HOST, "JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE": You so famously and so powerfully, said George Bush doesn't care about black people.

It makes me wonder what makes you think that Donald Trump does or any people at all? Why don't we take a break?

We will come back.

And Kanye West...


TAPPER (voice-over): Jake Tapper, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Joining us now, James Davis. He's the dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at the University of St. Galen. He joins me from Munich, Germany.

Thank you so much for joining us because that story certainly illustrates what this country is dealing with, so much tension and many people questioning the role of President Trump here.

And we do know, with another rally approaching in the nation's capital, he is not appealing for calm so far.

What do you make of it?

JAMES DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALEN: Well, Natalie, as one of your speakers said, racism did not start with Trump and it won't end with Trump. But I think, from the very beginning of the Trump era, if we want to call it that, when he came down that escalator in Trump Tower to announce his candidacy, this is an individual who has been about playing to our fears and dividing us into various tribes and playing to a base that really represents the worst in our country's history.

The Declaration of Independence, you know, says that all men are created equal. We haven't lived up to that, that motto or that value. But we continue to try. We had eight years of a president, President Obama, who tried to unite us.

But we've now got a president who seems to think that there's moral equivalency to people carrying a Nazi flag, torches, spewing the most vile things about Jews and blacks, there's some kind of equivalency between those and the people who are standing up for what's right in America and what our values are, saying there are good people on both sides of these issues.

There are good people on both sides of these issues and there are very bad people on one side of this issue, people that really appeal to the worst in us and the worst instincts --


DAVIS: -- in human beings. And the president seems to find it impossible to call them out.

ALLEN: He is spending his time, this weekend, tweeting about the quiet protests by a very small group of NFL players. That gets under his skin.


DAVIS: And what are the NFL players protesting?

They're protesting the inequal treatment of people of color in our criminal justice system, the fact that young, black men are shot in the back, unarmed, by police officers. That does not happen to the same degree in the white community.

They're protesting the fact that black people get sentences that are much longer than equivalent guilty parties who are white or Asian American. So there is a double standard.

And they're taking the knee to support actually what our basic values are, all men are created equal.

Why is that the focus of the president's scorn and not the people who are going to be carrying a Nazi flag with an American flag, when people like my great-uncle went to war in Europe to free Europe of the Nazi terror that was threatening that continent in the Second World War?

I don't get it and I think most Americans of good faith do not.

ALLEN: Don't get it at all.

The question is, where do we go from here?

Do we need the U.S. president to help us heal from this or take a different approach or say something to support peace?

How can this country move forward without the U.S. president changing his approach, can it?

DAVIS: Well, I don't expect this president to change his approach. It's a continuing theme throughout his tenure. So I think we have to look to other institutions of authority in the United States.

We need other leaders in the political realm; the Speaker of the House would be one place to look. We need other speakers of authority and members of the clergy, priests, ministers, pastors, rabbis, imams they need to stand up for what is basically the essential values of the United States of America, the values on which our country was built.

And we have to wait until we can elect a leader, who actually doesn't embody those values and uses the bully pulpit of the White House to really proclaim those values that make us special in this world.

ALLEN: Certainly appreciate that comment about other people bringing out their voices of peace and reconciliation after what this country is going through. Thank you so much for your insights. We always appreciate it, James Davis with us. Thank you.

DAVIS: Thanks, Natalie. HOWELL: Still ahead this hour, we'll be right back to bring you an update on the breaking news we're covering, a commuter plane crashing near Seattle, Washington, this plane after it was stolen from an airport.





HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world, I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Our top story, breaking news from Seattle, an aircraft crashed near Seattle after an airline ground service agent stole it from a maintenance area at Seattle's main airport, SeaTac.

HOWELL: This plane went down near Ketron Island. This is to the south and west of the airport. The crash killing the pilot; no people were killed on the ground, no buildings were hit when the plane crashed. The aircraft took off without authorization and without passengers on board Friday night.

ALLEN: The local county sheriff is stressing this was not linked to terrorism. This was a person at the controls of the plane, who is identified as a 29-year-old Horizon Air ground service agent, who's from the local area. Earlier, our Cyril Vanier spoke with an eyewitness, John Waldron. He captured some remarkable video of the stolen plane.


JOHN WALDRON, WITNESS: Thank you for having me here with you here tonight. So I decided go down to Chambers Bay for a nightly walk, like I often do. I noticed a couple of F-15s flying around, which isn't unusual in this area. Then I notice a twin engine turbo prop aircraft flying around and the two F-15s appeared to be chasing it, for lack of a better term.

So I just kind of blew it off and I thought, maybe they're practicing for an air show or something like that or who knows, you know. So I started to capture video just because I thought it was kind of bizarre. And I continued to watch. And then all of a sudden I noticed --


VANIER: Did you understand what you were seeing?

Did you understand what you were watching at the time?

WALDRON: Honestly, I thought they were practicing for an air show, to be perfectly honest. I had no idea that the aircraft had been stolen from SeaTac. I had no idea what was going on at all, honestly.

VANIER: But the F-15s, were they not moving in a menacing way?

WALDRON: They looked to me like they were chasing him away but I couldn't really tell from where. They were over an area we call Fox Island, which is in the background of that video, which is fairly populated.

And I noticed they were moving away from that area. They flew over it briefly and then headed back toward where I was at, shooting the video. But you know, they weren't flying fast. They were keeping pace with this other aircraft. But looked to me like they were chasing him down.

I thought, well, this is really odd, so I kept the video rolling. He pulled the stick back and did a complete loop in this aircraft.


VANIER: We are watching the maneuver right now. It is really impressive, just from a technical standpoint. It's stunning.

WALDRON: Absolutely, yes. I couldn't believe he recovered. And luckily, he did. And if I had to guess, I'd say maybe he was no less than 100 feet above the water but I was probably, I don't know, that was probably a mile away from where I was.

I thought, God, he'd better pull up or he's going to crash. So I was prepared to honestly run and take cover because I didn't know what was going on, if he had lack of flying skills or if he was just showing off.

But I got a little worried for a second. And then he pulled pretty much straight up and kind of at an angle and almost stalled the aircraft. Somehow, he got it leveled back off and then made his --


WALDRON: -- way down toward Steilacoom and Ketron Island.

And I turned away for a second, turned back and he was in what appeared to be probably a 30-degree dive toward Ketron Island. So I turned away again to watch the sunset, turned back again and that's when I heard the explosion, saw a bright pinpoint little area of flame and the smoke.

And thought, oh, my God, I think he just crashed.


HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with CNN safety analyst David Soucie, joining us by phone from Denver, Colorado.

David, before we move forward, I want to share something with you that our newsroom is learning. We are hearing new audio that is part of the recording between air traffic control and this pilot. I want to read this to you. This, according to the person that was flying the plane. He says this.

"I got a lot of people that care about me and it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this."

He goes on to say, "I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. I am just a broken guy. Got a few screws loose. I guess I never really knew it until now."

We're identifying, finding that clip of the transmission and we'll play it as soon as we're able to.

But, David, we're getting some insight now into who this person was who stole a plane from SeaTac airport.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It's tragic, really, that this happened. If there is a silver lining on the cloud, it's that he didn't hurt anyone else on the ground. And he didn't have anybody on board the aircraft with him.

HOWELL: Safety implications here, rather the security implications, given that he was able to certainly fly the plane, certainly get it off the ground from SeaTac. That's a busy international airport.

Does this raise major red flags?

SOUCIE: It really does. You know, this has been a concern of security for a long time now and, most recently, because there's been a few incidents, where the aircraft was moved. But we haven't had anybody actually take off and fly the aircraft yet. This is a concern.

There is a process now, in which maintenance personnel, if they go to taxi the aircraft out for maintenance and that sort of thing, that they have to have two people on board the aircraft. You can never have just one person procedurally. But this will raise a lot of issues and a lot of things that people have to look at.

The fact that this happened, especially at SeaTac, because SeaTac has incredibly detailed prevention methods for making sure that no one goes out there by themselves. So I'm not sure how this happened. And they'll be looking at that for certain.

HOWELL: Let's also talk, David, about the security that scrambled into place, these F-15s. They flew up very quickly from Portland, Oregon, and were critical, really, in guiding this plane to make sure that it wasn't in the path of densely populated areas there in the Seattle-Tacoma area.

SOUCIE: Yes. Ever since 9/11, the National Air Command has been outstanding in their ability to respond to unauthorized aircraft, the fact that they were there that quickly in that area is not surprising.

But what people don't know is that they're able to respond to this type of situation, no matter where it happens, very quickly and be able to negotiate and make sure that they push that aircraft and make sure it goes in the right direction away from population. HOWELL: The other question that many people I'm sure are waking up to ask is, you know, the implications as far as SeaTac itself.

I mean, do you get a sense that operations will resume as normal?

Will things be a bit different as this investigation is underway for people there?

SOUCIE: It could definitely cause some delays because they're looking at their procedures, in how their employees move about the airport. So they'll be tightening those things up. Unfortunately, as with many things, with security, is it's reactionary. Until a vulnerability is really identified and used, it's nothing that someone responds to.

So, you know, they'll definitely be looking at how this happens. And it could actually cause some delays in being able to get employees out to certain areas on the airport.

HOWELL: David, just briefly, I would like to listen to one more clip and share it with you to get your thoughts on it. As we hear, again, the pilot that is flying this plane. 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: Again, David, just sounds like --


HOWELL: -- this is some sort of joyride he's taking.

SOUCIE: It's tragic. He's, obviously, not in his right mind to be doing what he's doing and to not even want to land or attempt to land. It's tragic.

HOWELL: David Soucie, thank you so much for your time, joining us from Denver, Colorado.

SOUCIE: Thank you, George.

ALLEN: Ahead here in California, firefighters still have a very long way to go. We're still talking about out of control wildfires. We'll tell you more about it, coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM.




HOWELL: Welcome back.

We are following the breaking news that happened hours ago on the U.S. West Coast, near Seattle, Washington, a turbo prop plane that was stolen from SeaTac airport, we understand, by a ground service agent. We have been listening to audio clips from transmission, air traffic control, to that pilot.

We have been listening to those clips for some time and we found a specific clip that we've identified and want to play it for you because you hear the pilot of this plane, again, this ground service agent, kind of explain what is in his head as he is flying this plane that he stole from an international airport. Let's listen.


RICH: I got a lot of people that care about me and it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them.

Just a broken guy. Got a few screws loose, I guess. I never really knew it until now, you know.


ALLEN: "Never really knew it until now." That is bizarre. And we still don't know if this man ran out of fuel. He had expressed concern that he was going to. Air traffic control said, if that's the case, please fly low. Please stay over the water.

And then plane crashed. So we don't know.

Did he purposely crash it or did he run out of fuel?

HOWELL: A lot of questions around this incident. The investigation underway as people wake up in Seattle to this news of what happened there. We'll continue to follow the story, of course.

Now to the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen. It says that it will open its own inquiry into an airstrike on Thursday, an airstrike that hit a school bus filled children in Northern Yemen.

ALLEN: We saw the video. It is just horrible. The U.N. Security Council is demanding a credible, transparent investigation. The coalition, which is backed by the United States, the Saudis, defended the airstrike as a "legitimate military operation" against the Houthi rebels.

These children, these bloodied bodies of dozens of small children, of course, tell a much different story.

HOWELL: We do warn you, the images you're about to see are terrible but, look, there's no sanitizing the reality of what's happening there in Yemen. Our Nima Elbagir has this report for you.


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.







ALLEN: It is just bizarre that we say that California is still -- so much of the state is just burning. The biggest fire in their history, the Mendocino Complex Fire, has now grown to 312,000 acres or 126,000 hectares. It destroyed nearly 230 structures in the northern part of the state. It is about 60 percent contained.

HOWELL: In the meantime, the man accused of starting a large fire near the city of Los Angeles, he was in court on Friday and yelled, "It's all a lie."

He's due back in court later this month.



ALLEN: Thanks, everyone, for watching CNN NEWSROOM. We appreciate you staying with us. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. CNN's coverage continues with "NEW DAY" after the break. Stay with us.