Off-duty pilot tries to open emergency exit after attempting to shut down plane’s engine

Off-duty pilot tries to open emergency exit after attempting to shut down plane’s engine
Off-duty pilot tries to open emergency exit after attempting to shut down plane’s engine

An off-duty pilot is accused of trying to shut down a plane’s engine mid-flight and trying to open the emergency exit. Court docket paperwork say he advised officers he had taken “magic mushrooms” 48 hours earlier than the incident.


Joseph Emerson, a Washington native, is now dealing with a federal cost of interfering with flight crew members and attendants, as well as to Oregon State’s authentic prices, which embody 83 counts of tried homicide.

He appeared in court docket in Portland on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m.

His protection legal professional entered a plea of not responsible for all counts.

The choose advised Emerson that he had the appropriate to attend a “sturdy listening to” throughout the road from the courthouse, inside 5 days.

His subsequent court docket look is presently scheduled for November 1 at 9:30 a.m.

In accordance to the court docket paperwork, Emmerson didn’t have any prior felony or misdemeanor convictions earlier than Tuesday’s listening to.


We obtained court docket paperwork Tuesday that outlined what had allegedly occurred on the Alaska Airways flight, operated by Horizon Air, touring from Everett to San Francisco.

Court docket paperwork point out that Emerson was sitting within the jumpseat contained in the cockpit and talked with the 2 pilots in regards to the plane and the climate.

A pilot advised police in an interview that he didn’t see any indicators from Emerson, displaying one thing was unsuitable.

The second pilot advised authorities that Emerson threw his headset throughout the cockpit and advised them he was not okay.

He grabbed the handles of the plane’s fireplace suppression system, and pulled them down, the pilots stated, stopping the plane’s engine from getting extra gas.

The court docket paperwork stated that the pilots had a bodily wrestle with Emerson for about 30 seconds.

The pilots advised Emerson to depart the cockpit and declared an in-flight emergency.

A pilot advised police that Emerson was not in a position to pull the handles down utterly due to the pilots’ response. If he was profitable, it might have additionally shut off the plane’s hydraulics and turned the airplane right into a gilder inside seconds.

The incident occurred when the airplane was about midway between Astoria, OR, and Portland, OR.

Emerson later walked to the again of the airplane the place he sat down.

The pilots had notified the flight attendants that Emerson was “dropping it,” and wanted to get out of the cockpit, court docket paperwork stated.

We spoke with Paul Stephens, a Seattle resident who was sitting within the third row of the airplane and witnessed Emerson depart the cockpit.

“That particular person left the cockpit and walked to the again of the airplane on his personal with none escort. I don’t know the airline’s coverage. To me, that could be a miss. The perpetrator that was simply subdued to stroll freely from the entrance of the airplane to the again. I couldn’t see if his palms had been zip-tied or not. I simply noticed he was by himself. He might attain over. He might begin choking somebody, or open an emergency door,” stated Stephens.

In accordance to court docket paperwork, Emerson tried to open an emergency exit.

A flight attendant rapidly stopped Emerson and tried to discuss with him to distract him from grabbing the exit door’s deal with once more, say court docket paperwork.

One other flight attendant advised police that she overheard Emerson say “I messed all the things up,” and that “he tried to kill all people.”

The court docket paperwork add that the flight attendant additionally observed Emerson texting on his telephone, and heard him say he “had simply put 84 folks’s lives in danger tonight together with his personal.”

Police later arrested Emerson and interviewed him.

They stated Emerson advised them he had a nervous breakdown and had not slept in 40 hours. He additionally advised police that he thought he was dreaming when he was sitting contained in the cockpit.

“Yah… I pulled each emergency shut-off handles as a result of I assumed I used to be dreaming and I simply wanna get up,” the court docket paperwork describe Emerson’s response to police.

Emerson denied taking any treatment however stated he had suffered from melancholy and took “magic mushrooms” 48 hours earlier than the incident.

Emerson stated it was his first time taking the mushrooms.

When the US Legal professional’s Workplace was requested if Emerson was underneath the affect through the incident, a spokesperson stated that was underneath investigation.

We spoke with Alan Rockefeller, a mycologist primarily based in California who was visiting Washington on Tuesday, in regards to the results of magic mushrooms.

He stated the consequences usually disappear after six hours, even when it’s the particular person’s first time taking the drug.


We additionally spoke with John Nance, an aviation analyst with greater than 50 years of expertise in flying planes, to higher perceive the background examine course of for pilots.

Nance, who retired from Alaska Airways round 2004 after serving the airline as a captain for 20 years, stated all airways are required by the FAA to carry out background checks for any felony information.

Nevertheless, he stated there isn’t a formal course of to examine on a pilot’s psychological well being.

He stated individuals who work intently with the pilot on a day-to-day foundation will probably be in a position to see any irregular behaviors.

Nance additionally advised us {that a} pilot will be examined for medication or alcohol at any time.

“Any time you get off an airplane, after serving as a crew member, you’re topic to both a kind of exams or each of them,” stated Nance. “Any time you get on, you’re topic to them. And on high of that, gate brokers are very nicely educated to look ahead to any signal of impairment, whether or not it’s in a crew member, a captain, a flight attendant, or a passenger.”


We reached out to Alaska Airways Tuesday to perceive its present background examine course of and coaching for pilots.

The airline referred us to the corporate’s web site for his or her assertion.

“Alaska Airways is dedicated to sharing as a lot info as we are able to whereas respecting the continued federal and state felony investigations and court docket proceedings. We have now reviewed the U.S. Division of Justice’s (DOJ) Legal Criticism pertaining to Captain Joseph Emerson and, like many, are deeply disturbed by what we now have realized.

On Oct. 22, Emerson approached Horizon Air Gate Brokers overseeing the boarding course of for Flight 2059. Following well-established, FAA-mandated practices to authorize a jump-seat passenger, our Gate Agent confirmed that Emerson was an off-duty pilot for Alaska Airways. He was authorized to be a part of the flight as a passenger and was seated within the flight deck soar seat. All Gate Brokers and Flight Attendants are educated to establish indicators and signs of impairment.

At no time through the check-in or boarding course of did our Gate Brokers or flight crew observe any indicators of impairment that may have led them to stop Emerson from flying on Flight 2059.

The small print within the DOJ affidavit describing the actions of our flight crew are according to our understanding of what occurred primarily based on debriefings with every member of the flight crew. Upon exiting the flight deck, each Flight Attendants confirmed that Emerson was escorted by a Flight Attendant to the rear of the plane the place Emerson was positioned in wrist restraints and belted into the aft soar seat. Our crew additionally confirmed that Emerson tried to seize the deal with of the emergency exit through the plane’s descent earlier than being stopped by a Flight Attendant.

The U.S. Division of Transportation (DOT) has a compulsory drug testing program for on-duty crew members that’s administered by all airways, together with Alaska and Horizon according to our zero-tolerance coverage for any substance abuse. This will embody random testing earlier than or after a flight, in addition to cheap suspicion testing of on-duty Pilots and Flight Attendants.

On Oct. 22, Emerson was faraway from service indefinitely and relieved from all duties at Alaska Airways. In line with our pilots’ collective bargaining settlement, we’re consulting with our companions in labor relating to his employment standing.

We’re deeply happy with our Horizon flight crew and their fast actions each within the flight deck and within the rear of the plane. Working collectively, according to their coaching, they carried out their crucial roles exceptionally nicely, representing the most effective of their occupation.” – Alaksa Airways

We additionally requested a spokesperson for particulars about Emerson’s most up-to-date flight as a pilot for the airline.

A spokesperson confirmed his final day on obligation was on October 19.

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