Information available on the pilot who attempted to interfere with the flight while off-duty.

Information available on the pilot who attempted to interfere with the flight while off-duty.


For twenty years, Joseph D Emerson excelled as an airline pilot. He became a member of the Alaska Air Group in 2001 as a first officer, eventually advancing to pilot in 2019.

However, on Sunday, there was a sudden shift when the pilot was involved in an event that has deeply surprised those who are familiar with him.

During the flight from Seattle to San Francisco, a 44-year-old passenger who was seated in the cockpit’s jump seat reportedly made an attempt to shut off the fuel supply to the engines.

The flight crew was able to restrain him and he was arrested and charged with 167 offenses, including 83 counts of attempted first-degree murder. He is now also being charged with a federal offense for interfering with flight crew members and attendants.

According to officials, there were no injuries in the incident. However, the FBI is collaborating with the Port of Portland police to look into the matter.

There are still many unanswered questions about why Mr. Emerson supposedly tried to crash the plane during the flight.

Based on current information, this is our current understanding:

What occurred during the flight?

Officials stated that Mr. Emerson, who was not on duty at the moment, was in the cockpit’s flight deck jump seat when he attempted to turn off the aircraft’s engines by pulling the fire extinguisher handles.

The 44-year-old passenger was calmed down by the flight crew while the captain and first officer worked to maintain the operation of the engines. Mr. Emerson was guided by a flight attendant to the back of the plane and secured in a jump seat with wrist restraints.

Alaska Airlines reported that Mr. Emerson allegedly tried to grab the emergency exit handle while the plane was descending, but a flight attendant intervened and stopped him.

The plane, originally en route from Seattle to San Francisco, was redirected to Portland. All 80 passengers onboard were able to transfer to a different plane.

Passengers on the flight reported to ABC News that they were not promptly informed of the “security threat” mentioned by Alaska Airlines. Instead, a flight attendant used the speaker system to announce that there was “an emergency situation” and the plane needed to make an immediate landing.

Before passengers board an Alaska Airlines flight, a worker is seen cleaning a jet bridge at Paine Field in Everett, Washington.

After the plane arrived, law enforcement officers entered the aircraft and took Mr. Emerson into custody, leading him off the plane with his hands restrained by handcuffs.

Aubrey Gavello, a passenger on the flight, stated during an interview with Laura Coates Live that the individual in question remained composed and compliant while being escorted off the aircraft.

After the event, Mr. Emerson was placed on an indefinite leave of absence and relieved of all responsibilities at Alaska Airlines. The airline announced that it is currently discussing his employment status with its labor partners.

Who exactly is Joseph D Emerson?

Authorities reported that Joseph D Emerson was arrested and charged with a total of 167 offenses, which include 83 charges for attempted first-degree murder, 83 charges for reckless endangerment, and one charge for endangering an aircraft.

The reason behind the incident is still uncertain.

Before the event occurred, Mr. Emerson worked as a pilot for Alaska Airlines. The airline stated that he became a First Officer for Horizon in August 2001 as part of the Alaska Air Group.

In June of 2012, Mr. Emerson departed from Horizon and joined Virgin America as a pilot. However, after Alaska Airlines acquired Virgin America in 2016, he became a First Officer for Alaska Airlines. In 2019, he was promoted to Captain for Alaska Airlines.

According to The Daily Mail, the 44-year-old man who resides in California with his wife and two sons has been described by his neighbors as amiable and an excellent father.

Joseph Emerson is being accused of attempting to commit murder.

Karen Yee informed the outlet that he constantly interacts with the children.

She described him as an exceptional individual who is highly empathetic towards others.

She stated that it was difficult for them to picture him intentionally causing harm to someone. It’s hard for them to believe he would do something like that on purpose. She cannot comprehend him doing anything that would cause harm to anyone.

In the meantime, Ed Yee, her husband, referred to the occurrence as “extremely surprising.”

“He appears to be a genuinely kind person. There is nothing out of the ordinary about him,” he informed CNN.

What was the reason?

The reason for Mr. Emerson’s alleged attempt to crash the plane is unknown. However, after his arrest, he supposedly informed the police that he was experiencing a “nervous breakdown” and had ingested psychadelic mushrooms.

Based on a legal document obtained by The Independent, he informed authorities that he was going through a state of extreme anxiety and had not rested in 40 hours. Mr Emerson clarified to the police that he was not feeling well and believed the pilots were not fully aware of the situation.

In the meantime, Alaska Airlines stated that Mr. Emerson had no previous medical problems.

Alaska Airlines stated that Emerson consistently obtained his required FAA medical certifications in compliance with regulations during his career, and there were no instances where his certifications were rejected, halted, or cancelled.

A pilot for Alaska Airlines was apprehended for attempting to deactivate the plane’s engines.

According to passengers on the flight, a flight attendant informed them that Mr. Emerson experienced a mental breakdown.

Aubrey Gavello informed ABC that after the passenger was escorted off the plane, the flight attendant stated that the reason for his removal was a mental breakdown and he needed to be removed urgently.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is assisting with the law enforcement inquiry, the 44-year-old individual did not possess the necessary credentials to operate the ERJ 175 aircraft, which was involved in the incident on Sunday.

CNN reports that officials do not suspect the incident to be an act of terrorism or driven by ideological beliefs.