Authorities said the man had made “an unauthorized take-off” late on Friday local time, forcing Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to close.
Two F15 fighter jets pursued the plane. It is unclear if the man survived the crash in Puget Sound.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said it was “not a terrorist incident”, adding the man was local and aged 29.
Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor later told reporters it appeared to be “a joyride gone terribly wrong”, according to ABC7 News, adding “most terrorists don’t do loops over the water”.
Air traffic controllers tried to encourage the man to land before the plane crashed, a recording being shared online reveals.
The Seattle Times describes the man as sounding “carefree and wild”, while a number of videos on social media show the plane flying over the area in an erratic manner.
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