The pilot who was not on duty and reportedly attempted to intentionally crash an Alaska Airlines flight was previously the safety officer at his flying club in California.
According to the New York Post, Joseph Emerson, aged 44, served as the safety officer at the NRI Flying Club in Concord, California for a duration of two years before stepping down from the position in 2019.
According to club president Adam Silverthorne, he held a position as an approved teacher at the NRI Flying Club and also served as the club’s safety officer for a period of one to two years. During this time, he focused on promoting a safety-conscious environment and ongoing training.
Mr. Emerson was accused of 83 attempted murder charges for allegedly attempting to disrupt the fuel supply to the engines on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco on Sunday. He was later restrained by the flight crew.
Alaska Airlines reported that Mr. Emerson was seated in the jump seat in the cockpit during the flight when he unexpectedly attempted to deactivate both engines of the plane by pulling the fire extinguisher handles.
Afterwards, Mr. Emerson was taken into custody and removed from the aircraft. Fortunately, none of the 80 passengers on the flight sustained any injuries.
The reason behind Mr. Emerson’s actions is still unknown, however, Alaska Airlines stated that he did not have any previous medical problems.
According to Alaska Airlines, Emerson consistently fulfilled his required FAA medical certifications as per regulations throughout his career. There were no instances where his certifications were refused, revoked, or suspended.
The pilot database of the Federal Aviation Administration indicated that Mr. Emerson was granted medical clearance last month.
Following an emergency landing in Portland, Mr. Emerson confessed to authorities that he had experienced a “nervous breakdown” and had consumed psychedelic mushrooms two days prior.
He informed the authorities that he had been awake for 40 consecutive hours and had been dealing with depression for the last six months.
According to court documents, the individual informed the police that they pulled both emergency shut-off handles because they believed they were dreaming and simply wanted to wake up.
Alaska Airlines expressed deep concern over the actions of the 44-year-old individual.
According to Mr Silverthorne, it is inconceivable that Mr Emerson would intentionally harm someone.
He stated that he cannot imagine him purposely causing harm to anyone because it goes against his character.
A neighbor of the 44-year-old also expressed the same sentiment.
Karen Yee informed the Daily Mail that he constantly engages in playtime with the children.
She stated that he is a fantastic individual who shows great empathy towards others.
“We just couldn’t imagine him doing anything to hurt someone. It’s very hard for us to believe that he would do anything intentionally like that,” she added. “I can’t fathom him doing anything that would hurt anyone.”
In 2001, Mr. Emerson joined the Alaska Air Group as a first officer for Horizon. He then transitioned to become a pilot for the airline in 2019.