22 October En Route From Everette Wash. to San Francisco, Calif.

A flight operated by Horizon Air, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, diverted to Portland International Airport in Oregon on Sunday, October 22. The carrier said, and ATC recordings confirmed, the diversion occurred because of a security threat related to an authorized occupant in the cockpit jump seat. “On Oct. 22, Alaska Airlines Flight 2059 operated by Horizon Air from Everett, WA (PAE) to San Francisco, CA (SFO) reported a credible security threat related to an authorized occupant in the flight deck jump seat,” Alaska Airlines said. “The crew secured the aircraft without incident.” A Seattle Times report said an Alaska Air off-duty pilot tried to shut off engines on flight from Everett and had to be subdued. “I’ll just give you a heads-up. We’ve got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit,” the pilot can be heard telling ATC in recordings. “It doesn’t seem like he’s causing any issue at the back. I think he’s subdued. Other than that, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked.” Alaska Airlines pilot Joe Emerson, 44, was arrested by Port of Portland law enforcement and booked into jail just after 4:00 a.m. Monday morning, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s office website. The booking shows the man was being held on suspicion of attempted murder and reckless endangerment. The U.S. Attorney’s office of District of Oregon said an off-duty commercial airline pilot was arrested after he attempted to shut down the engines of a passenger plane in flight and charged in federal court. Joseph David Emerson, 44, of Pleasant Hill, California, was charged by criminal complaint with one count of interfering with flight crew members and attendants. According to court documents, on October 22, 2023, Port of Portland police officers responded to a report of an inbound aircraft that had diverted from its route between Everett, Washington, and San Francisco to Portland International Airport due to an in-flight disturbance. Police dispatch reported that Emerson, an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot seated in a cockpit jump seat, had attempted to shut down the plane’s engines during flight. After landing, responding officers interviewed the two pilots. The pilots recounted that, approximately halfway between Astoria, Oregon, and Portland, after engaging with them in casual conversation, Emerson attempted to grab and pull two red fire handles that would have activated the plane’s emergency fire suppression system and cut off fuel to its engines. After a brief physical struggle with the pilots, Emerson exited the cockpit. Flight attendants placed Emerson in wrist restraints and seated him in the rear of the aircraft. During the flight’s descent, Emerson tried to grab the handle of an emergency exit. A flight attendant stopped him by placing her hands on top of his. After landing in Portland, Emerson was arrested without further incident and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on multiple state charges of attempted murder and reckless endangerment. He remains in custody in Multnomah County on a federal hold pending his first appearance in federal court at a later date. This case was investigated by the FBI and Port of Portland Police Department. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. Subsequently, it was reported that Emerson, who was riding on the cockpit jump seat on a Horizon Air flight said “I’m not OK” just before trying to pull the fire suppression handles which would have shut down the engines if the fast-thinking pilot crew hadn’t quickly reset them. He later said in a statement made to police that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms recently, according to the charging documents made public Tuesday. Oregon state prosecutors filed 83 counts of attempted murder against Emerson just before he appeared in court. His attorney entered not guilty pleas on his behalf. Federal prosecutors also charged Emerson with interfering with a flight crew, a charge that can carry up to 20 years in prison. Emerson told Port of Portland police that he had been struggling with depression, one of his friends had recently died and that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms about 48 hours before the flight. He also said he had not slept in more than 40 hours, according to the document.