Pilot Attempted to Shut-down Alaska Airlines Flight Suffered delusional disorder

Joseph Emerson, a former pilot for Alaska Airlines, was reportedly experiencing a 'panic attack' and 'illusions', leading him to attempt to shut down the engines of an Embraer E175 during a flight, as per his legal representatives.


They stated that Emerson was under the impression that he was in a dream during the flight and his actions were an attempt to wake himself up. They emphasized that he had no intention of causing harm. On October 22, 2023, while seated in the flight deck jump seat on a journey from Seattle Paine Field International Airport to San Francisco International Airport, Emerson reached for the red fire handles that would have cut off the fuel supply to the engines. 


Another pilot on the aircraft managed to avert disaster by physically restraining Emerson. Subsequent to the incident, federal prosecutors charged Emerson with interfering with flight crew members, along with 167 non-federal charges, including 83 counts of attempted murder. His lawyers, in a statement seen by ABC News, revealed that Emerson had consumed a small quantity of psilocybin, a compound found in mushrooms, two days prior to the flight to commemorate the death anniversary of a former colleague. 

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They added that this was his first experience with mushrooms. The lawyers also mentioned that Emerson was hesitant to seek help for his mental health issues out of fear of losing his job. He was reportedly dealing with stress, fatigue, dehydration, and untreated anxiety and depression. Following the incident, Emerson, who had been a pilot for 20 years, was indefinitely suspended and relieved of all duties at Alaska Airlines.

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