A shocking incident aboard an Alaska Airlines flight had passengers and crew on edge as an off-duty pilot allegedly tried to jeopardize the plane’s safety mid-air.
44-year-old Joseph David Emerson, who was occupying the cockpit’s jump seat on a flight from Everett, Washington to San Francisco, is now facing multiple charges. The jump seat, typically reserved for off-duty personnel, allows those like pilots or air traffic controllers to travel between airports.
Disturbingly, Emerson is accused of trying to pull the aircraft’s fire extinguisher handles, potentially endangering all on board. Quick thinking by the Horizon Captain and First Officer averted disaster, as they managed to maintain control of the plane and ensure passenger safety.
Due to the unfolding drama, the aircraft made an emergency landing at Portland International Airport around 6:25 p.m. Thankfully, no injuries resulted from the ordeal, as reported by the FBI Portland on X, the successor to Twitter.
Pilot communications captured the tense moments: “We’ve removed the individual who attempted to tamper with the engines. Currently, he seems restrained and isn’t causing further disruptions. We urgently need law enforcement upon landing.”
Alaska Airlines praised the Horizon flight crew’s professional conduct and thanked passengers for their understanding. “Everyone was re-accommodated on subsequent flights. Our gratitude goes to the Horizon team for their swift response and to our passengers for their cooperation,” the airline mentioned.
Following the incident, Emerson was taken into custody by the Port of Portland and is being held at the Multnomah County Detention Center. The charges against him include 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and a single charge of endangering an aircraft.
The flight had a total of 84 people on board, 80 of whom were passengers.
Authorities, including the FBI and the Port of Portland Police Department, are closely investigating the incident. The FAA, in their statement, confirmed their active engagement with Alaska and Horizon airlines while extending their full support to the ongoing law enforcement probe.
As reposted by ABC News, In a reassuring message to the public, the FBI clarified, “We can confidently state there’s no continuing threat from this incident.”