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 October 23, 2023

Pilot facing 83 murder charges after trying to shut off engine mid flight

A quick response from the flight crew prevented a potential tragedy on an Alaska Airlines flight after an off-duty pilot allegedly tried to disable the engines.

On Sunday, a standard flight from Everett, Washington, to San Francisco turned into an unexpected crisis. Passengers and crew aboard the Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 were confronted with an unforeseen threat that could've turned catastrophic.

Joseph David Emerson, 44, an off-duty pilot for the airline, was seated in the flight deck jump seat beside the operating pilot. Alarmingly, he's accused of attempting to turn off the engines during the flight. The very engines that were keeping everyone in the air.

As reported by Daily Mail clarifying that Emerson tried to "disrupt the operation of the engines." Luckily, his attempt was unsuccessful. Crew members swiftly intervened, ensuring the safety of everyone onboard.

Charges against the accused

The seriousness of the situation becomes clearer when one looks at the charges Emerson is facing. Police documents reveal that he's charged with 83 counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and a single count of endangering an aircraft.

One passenger, Alex Wood, remarked that Emerson "looked like an airline employee." Another passenger, Aubrey Gavello, added that a flight attendant mentioned Emerson might have suffered a mental breakdown.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stated in a press release, "Emerson is accused of attempting to deploy the fire suppression system before crew members managed to 'subdue' him and remove him from the controls."

The aftermath: Flight diversion and arrest

Due to the severe security threat, the plane, which had initially taken off from Everett at 5:23 pm, had to be diverted. It made a safe landing at Portland International Airport.

After the landing, Emerson was promptly taken into custody by the Port of Portland officials, BBC News reported.

The FBI has confirmed that they are actively investigating the incident. They also assured the public that there's no ongoing threat related to this event.

Pilots Union and safety standards

In the wake of the incident, the pilots union, Air Line Pilots Association, International, commended the pilots and crew for their actions. They also highlighted that the pilot profession in North America is among the most "highly vetted and scrutinized careers."

Thankfully, due to the swift actions of the flight crew, all 80 passengers and four crew members on board remained unharmed.

The FAA also noted that the incident wasn't connected to any current global events, emphasizing that the incident appears isolated in nature.

Lessons to learn from this tragedy

Incidents like these, while rare, can teach us invaluable lessons about safety and preparedness. Here are some takeaways:

  • Always pay attention during flight safety instructions. While we often overlook them, these instructions can be life-saving during emergencies.
  • Trust in the training of airline staff. As evident in this incident, they are well-equipped to handle emergencies and ensure passenger safety.
  • Stay calm and follow crew instructions. Panicking can make the situation worse, and following directives can aid in quicker resolution.
  • Avoid jumping to conclusions. Even though crimes can happen anywhere and to anyone, it's essential to wait for complete information before forming an opinion. And always, it's vital to remember never to blame the victim.

Why does this story matter?

The incident on Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 serves as a harrowing reminder of the unpredictable nature of human behavior. Even within industries with rigorous checks and standards, unpredictable situations can arise.

The swift actions of the flight crew averted a potential tragedy, emphasizing the importance of proper training and quick thinking in high-pressure situations.

Moreover, such incidents highlight the necessity of mental health checks within high-responsibility professions. It emphasizes the importance of having robust safety measures in place.

Lastly, this incident underscores the significance of the everyday heroes among us. Flight crews, who are primarily responsible for our comfort, demonstrated they are also the first line of defense in ensuring our safety.

For passengers, it's a reminder to always pay attention to safety briefings, trust in the professionalism of airline staff, and remain calm in emergencies.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.
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