By Jim Smith

DUXBURY (CBS) – David Price is an aviation expert. He’s been a commercial pilot and flight instructor for 30 years.

Price says while the man who commandeered and flew a plane in Seattle did go through background checks and had clearance to be in restricted areas, security at airports needs to be re-evaluated.

A stolen plane shown flying in Seattle before it crashed. (Photo credit: John Waldron)

“There are certainly instances where the whole system could be improved but I think the TSA has been aware of this for a long long time” said Price. “I think this is going to send up a lot of red flags that maybe a more thorough check needs to have happened.”

The man was an airline employee who stole an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane, took off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and crashed late Friday, officials said. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said the man, later identified as Richard Russell, was 29 and “suicidal.” He died in the crash.

It’s not believed Russell was a pilot, but Price believes he did have flying skills, perhaps self-taught.

David Price, aviation expert. (WBZ-TV)

“If you look at the video clip, he was saying he knew how to fly the plane from using the computer flight simulators, and in fact, in looking at the recorded video clips of the airplane flying where he did the maneuver called a barrel roll. That takes an incredible amount of skill,” Price said.

Price is also a former Dean of Aviation at Daniel Webster College and was an Associate Dean of Aviation at Bridgewater State University.

He’s hoping the sad ending to the Seattle story will lead to constructive improvements in the system.

“I hope that the TSA, who oversees the vetting process for airport security, it would be a wonderful thing if they could get more funding to really put more effort into identifying people with mental disabilities that work at airports,” Price said.

Jim Smith


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