Off-Duty Pilot Decides He Wants to Fly the Plane

Skycolors /
Skycolors /

If you’ve ever been uneasy about flying, this story isn’t going to suddenly put you at ease. On a recent Alaska Airlines flight headed from Seattle to San Francisco was diverted to Portland because of a “credible security threat.”

An off-duty pilot was riding as a passenger, though he was in the “jump seat” within the cockpit. It’s fairly common, but they know that they are only there in the capacity of passenger.

Someone forgot to give Joseph Emerson that memo. He allegedly tampered with the jet engines. The pilot assigned to the flight reported to air traffic controllers that he had attempted to turn the aircraft’s engines off in the middle of the flight.

Once the plane landed in Portland, Emerson was arrested with 83 felony counts of attempted murder as well as 83 counts of reckless endangerment. Any guess on how many people were on the plane? And yes, it’s attempted murder because the plane could have crashed if the engines had been successfully turned off in the middle of the flight. Emerson also faces a felony count of endangering an aircraft.

Emerson apparently works for a different airline. CNN was the first to cover the story and didn’t release the airline. Further, that airline chose not to comment on Emerson’s actions.

The pilots were able to remove Emerson from the cockpit. Even after he was removed, he tried to deploy the fire suppression system. Eventually, the crew had to subdue him.

What is still unknown is Emerson’s motive.

Hopefully, as the investigation continues, we find out what caused Emerson to want to take control of the plane even though he wasn’t the pilot.

In the meantime, if you have any plans on flying, you might want to poke your head into the cockpit and say hi to the pilots. Make sure none of them have a desire to turn the engines off while in the middle of your flight. It may provide you with a bit more peace of mind.