It’s the kind of thing that would terrify someone who’s afraid of airplanes … and could keep even frequent flyers up at night.
An off-duty pilot who caught a ride in the cockpit of an Alaska Airlines flight recently is accused of trying to shut off the jet’s engines while thousands of feet in the sky. Now Joseph David Emerson is facing 83 counts of attempted murder.
Hallucinations and drowsiness
As the criminal charges against him assert, Emerson was on his way to fly a different plane when he got aboard the flight on Sunday. He reportedly indicated that he hadn’t slept in nearly two days and had possibly eaten psychedelic mushrooms.
Officials and airline staff said they didn’t see any signs of impairment before he took a seat in the cockpit, though, and the pilots manning the controls reportedly engaged in “casual conversation” with Emerson before the potentially deadly incident.
“I’m not OK,” he allegedly shouted before reaching for a pair of handles that, if he’d been able to activate them, would’ve engaged the plane’s fire suppression system and disabled its engines.
Fortunately for everyone on board, the pilots were able to physically prevent that from happening, the criminal complaint states.
The entire incident, including Emerson being kicked out of the cockpit, lasted for about a minute and a half.
“I thought I was dreaming”
Once he was out of the cockpit, Emerson reportedly told flight attendants: “You need to cuff me right now or it’s going to be bad.”
He allegedly tried to grab an emergency exit but was again prevented from going through with the dangerous action.
Emerson reportedly said that he’d been depressed lately and added: “I pulled both emergency shut-off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just want to wake up.”