An Alaska Airlines pilot added everyday hero to his resume when he stopped an off-duty pilot riding in the cockpit’s jump seat from crashing the plane.
Off-duty pilot Joseph Emerson, 44, attempted to seize control of the aircraft and shut down its engines from inside of the cockpit.
However, the captain and first officer sprung into action, promptly restraining their colleague and safeguarding the lives of all 84 passengers on board.
“We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit. He doesn’t sound like he’s causing any issue in the back right now, and I think he’s subdued,” the captain told ground control.
“Other than that, yeah, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.”
Off-duty airline pilot tries to take down plane
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Emerson uncharacteristically grabbed a handle on the fire suppression system in an attempt to disable the plane’s engines.
“If the T-handle is fully deployed, a valve in the wing closes to shut off fuel to the engine. In this case, the quick reaction of our crew to reset the T-handles ensured engine power was not lost,” an Alaska Airlines spokesperson told the Daily Mail.
After wrestling Emerson away from the controls, the captain escorted Emerson to the back of the plane, where he was handcuffed to the rail until they landed in Portland, diverting from their original destination, San Francisco.
On of the passengers told ABC that the passengers were not alerted to what went down in the cockpit, just that their flight was being diverted due to a “disturbance in the cockpit.”
“After we did land and the gentleman was escorted off, the flight attendant got back on the speaker and said, plain and simple, ‘He had a mental breakdown. We needed to get him off the plane immediately,'” the passenger noted.
Off-duty airline pilot has mental breakdown
Emerson, an Alaskan Airlines captain since 2019 and a pilot with the company since 2001, was arrested on Sunday and charged with 83 felony counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft.
According to court documents, Emerson said that he had not went to sleep in 40 hours and had eaten psychedelic mushrooms prior to the flight.
His psychotic episode was reportedly prompted by a depressive episode over the death of a close friend.
When he appeared in court, Emerson didn’t deny his actions. “I’m admitting to what I did. I’m not fighting any charges you want to bring against me, guys,” he reportedly remarked.