October 24, 2023 | Susan Napier-Sewell

What does a bad day look like? Alaska Air Crew Subdues Pilot from Crashing Plane

Alaska Air

Attempted Alaska Air sabotage

Less than 24 hours ago, an Alaska Air off-duty pilot, who had been occupying the jump seat on flight 2059, was wrestled out of the cockpit by the flight crew, now hailed as heroes as they stopped him from shutting down the engines mid-flight.

The off-duty Alaska Air pilot, Joseph D. Emerson, 44, is charged with attempting to sabotage the Seattle to San Francisco flight (operated by Horizon Air); the flight crew reported a “credible threat,” and “managed to secure the plane without losing engine power and worked with Air Traffic Control to perform an emergency landing at Portland’s PDX airport.”

News: Alaska Air pilot incident

Lynnwood Times reports that, “Emerson’s motives are unclear, and no weapons were involved in the incident. He is resident of Pleasant Hill, California and if convicted faces at least 622.5 years in federal prison.

“Emerson was reportedly sitting in the jump seat of the plane when he attempted to sabotage the flight which was operated by Horizon Air by trying to “’unsuccessfully attempt to disrupt the operation of the engines.’” Emerson was an authorized occupant of the cockpit.

“Emerson’s motives are unclear, and no weapons were involved in the incident. He is a resident of Pleasant Hill, California, and if convicted, faces at least 622.5 years in federal prison.

“According to the released air traffic audio recordings by KATU, the pilot of the flight removed Emerson from the cockpit and requested immediate law enforcement presence upon landing.

“’We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit, and he doesn’t sound like he’s causing any issue in the back right now,’” the pilot told air traffic control in the audio recording. “’I think he’s subdued.’”

Emerson is now being held in jail in Portland; the FBI has announced its investigation and assured the traveling public that there is no continuing concern in relation to this incident.

Source/credit: Lynnwood Times, “Hero flight crew thwarted pilot attempting to crash plane,” October 23, 2023, Kienan Briscoe.

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