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I wrote the other day about an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot who was sitting in the cockpit jump seat and then tried to shut down the engines. I’m including the paragraph I first wrote about this the other day, and then including a bit more information as it has come out

Alaska Pilot Charged With Attempted Murder

Off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot Joseph Emerson, age 44, was onboard Alaska Airlines Flight 2059, operated by Alaska’s subsidiary Horizon Air and scheduled from Everett Field in the Seattle area to San Francisco. 80 passengers and 4 crew were onboard the flight, including Emerson. Mr. Emerson was seated in the cockpit jump seat and at one point tried to “disrupt the operation of the engines.”

The Horizon captain and first officer managed to subdue and detail Emerson. An air traffic control recording during the incident captured the pilot saying, “We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit. The pilots were able to successfully divert the plane to Portland, Oregon. It was met by law enforcement, where Emerson is facing multiple charges including 83 counts of attempted murder. The FAA has announced that this does not appear to be related to current world events.

More Information Comes Out

Ross Feinstein shares the link to the full federal complaint on what I still call Twitter

  • Joseph Emerson (the off-duty pilot in question) had apparently been taking “psychedelic mushrooms” and at one point threw off his headset and said “I am not okay”
  • He then tried to activate the engine fire suppression system (which would have also cut off fuel to the engines)
  • One pilot actively wrestled with Emerson while the other pilot initiated an emergency
  • The whole encounter lasted about 90 seconds in the cockpit
  • Later, a flight attendant ziptied Emerson in the rear of the aircraft in a flight attendant seat, where he remained until landing, when he was met by police.

The Bottom Line

An off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot has been charged with 84 counts of attempted murder for trying to shut off the engines of an Alaska Airlines flight that was in midflight. He was traveling in a jump seat in the cockpit and at one point tried to disrupt the operation of the engines. The other two pilots managed to subdue him and he was met by law enforcement on the ground. Kudos to the pilots who managed to thwart the attempt and keep all 84 people safe.

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