(TheProudRepublic.com) – In what seems like a scene from an action movie, an off-duty pilot caused a major disturbance on a recent Alaskan Airlines flight. Joseph Emerson, 44, attempted to cut the aircraft’s fuel supply while seated in the cockpit’s jump seat.
The situation escalated as Emerson tried to open the emergency doors during the flight, even after being restrained by crew members. The pilots managed to safely land the aircraft in Portland, Oregon, amidst the chaos.
When questioned by the police, Emerson confessed to consuming magic mushrooms before the flight and having a “nervous breakdown” due to a lack of sleep for 40 hours. “I didn’t feel okay. It seemed like the pilots weren’t paying attention to what was going on. They didn’t… it didn’t seem right,” Emerson shared, according to an affidavit. He further stated, “I pulled both emergency shut-off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up.”
Emerson was subsequently arrested and is facing serious charges. “I’m admitting to what I did,” he told the police. He has been charged at the federal level with interfering with flight crew members and attendants.
In Oregon state court, he pleaded not guilty to 83 counts of attempted murder, one count of endangering an aircraft, and 83 misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment.
Emerson revealed to investigators that he had been battling depression for the past six months. Those familiar with him found this behavior entirely out of character.
Karen Yee, a neighbor, expressed her shock, saying, “They are a great family and I just feel bad for them. I just can’t imagine him doing what he was doing. The whole neighborhood is in total shock because he’s loved by everybody.”
The two pilots on duty during the incident reported that Emerson’s actions were unexpected. After managing to remove him from the cockpit, they secured him with wrist restraints and informed the flight attendants of his erratic behavior.
Passengers on the flight were understandably distressed by the event. Aubrey Gavello, one of the passengers, recounted the announcement made by the flight attendant, explaining that Emerson had a mental breakdown.
The incident also resulted in dramatic exchanges between the aircraft and air traffic control. Audio from the situation revealed the pilot’s request for law enforcement upon landing due to Emerson’s actions.
It’s worth noting that Emerson was occupying the cockpit jump seat, a privilege often extended to off-duty pilots.