What he told air traffic controllers

Videos taken by onlookers during Richard Russell's flight showed the plane doing deep dives, broad loops and at least one upside-down roll.
Videos taken by onlookers during Richard Russell's flight showed the plane doing deep dives, broad loops and at least one upside-down roll. PHOTO: REUTERS

In recordings of Mr Richard Russell's remarkable conversation with air traffic controllers, he speaks admiringly of the Olympic Mountains at sunset, complains of light-headedness and muses about potential prison time if he were to land the plane safely.

At one point, an air traffic controller asked if Mr Russell felt comfortable flying. "It's blast, man," Mr Russell replied. "I played video games before so, you know, I know what I'm doing a little bit."

At times, he was contrite. "Man, I'm sorry about this. I hope this doesn't ruin your day," he said to the controller, adding that he was grateful to be kept away from other aircraft. "I'm glad you're not, you know, screwing up everyone else's day on account of me."

He said he hoped to have a "moment of serenity" in the air but lamented that the sights "went by so fast".

Videos taken by onlookers during Mr Russell's flight showed the plane doing deep dives, broad loops and at least one upside-down roll.

At the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, thousands of passengers in the terminal or left sitting in planes on the tarmac were delayed.

"I got a lot of people that care about me and it's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this," Mr Russell said. "I would like to apologise to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess. Never really knew it until now."

 
 

NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 13, 2018, with the headline 'What he told air traffic controllers'. Print Edition | Subscribe