Pilot Accused of Nearly Crashing Alaska Airlines Plane Reveals What His Goal Was

Pilot Accused of Nearly Crashing Alaska Airlines Plane Reveals What His Goal Was

There’s no rowing merrily down the stream when it’s a bad dream.

That’s what Joseph Emerson thought he was having — a bad dream — when he decided to break the spell.

Except the dream wasn’t happening on a stream. It was happening up in the air, way up, inside an airplane. To wake up, Emerson decided he needed to crash the plane.

Emerson, a pilot for Alaska Airlines, had boarded one of the company planes for a flight home on Oct. 22. He was eager to return to his wife and their two young kids, The New York Times reported.

Emerson was under a lot of pressure. One of his kids was having health issues, and he was shifting from Airbus to Boeing aircraft — no small feat. The training had kept him away from home a good deal of the summer, according to the Times.

In 2018, the best man at his wedding, Scott Pinney, died unexpectedly. Emerson never really got over it. He took to wearing a necklace containing his friend’s ashes. Emerson consulted a therapist who concluded that Pinney’s death had left him in a state of depression.

Well before Pinney’s death, Emerson was bullied at school. He’d gone to counseling for that, too. Poor Emerson. The Times painted him as a man of constant sorrow.

Emerson’s wife Sarah “had talked to her husband in the past about seeking more support or medications for the things that troubled him,” the outlet reported. But “Emerson did some research and learned that taking any medication would most likely ground him from flying for a prolonged period of time.”

In October, Emerson and several friends gathered on a remote property in Washington to honor Pinney’s life. They’d done the same thing the year before.

One night, while the friends were sitting around a fire drinking whiskey and beer, someone suggested they take some psychedelic mushrooms.


Emerson had never tried shrooms before. He told the Times that his friends said they were safe, wore off quickly, and wouldn’t show up on a drug test. He wasn’t scheduled to fly for almost a week. Why not?

After all, psilocybin seems to be going the way of marijuana. It’s been decriminalized in Oregon and Colorado. It’s becoming socially acceptable.

It didn’t take long for Emerson to become paranoid after ingesting the drug. He thought his friends might be teasing him or worse. “I felt fearful of them,” he said. “I started to have this feeling that this wasn’t real.”

Uh oh.

Emerson “began worrying about the safety of his wife and children, fretted over his estranged relationship with his brother, [and] replayed shameful things that had happened over his lifetime, from childhood to days in adulthood when he drank too much,” he told the Times.

“I thought of a lot of traumatic things in that time where I was like, ‘Am I dead? Is this hell?’” he said.

The next day, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was trapped in purgatory. On the way to the airport and in the cockpit of the plane, he was confused and paranoid. He thought he was having a panic attack. Or was it all a dream?

Finally, Emerson decided he needed to wake up. “He grabbed the engine shut-off handles, located just above the jump seat where he was sitting,” the Times reported.

Thankfully, the pilots were too quick for Emerson. They grabbed his wrists and pushed the handles back into place. Emerson was handcuffed and detained by crew members until the plane made an emergency landing in Portland, where he was picked up by law enforcement.

He has pleaded not guilty to 83 counts of attempted murder, one for every person aboard the plane.

No one could deny that Emerson went through a terrifying ordeal. He no doubt deeply regrets his actions. This is simply the sad result of society shrugging, if not celebrating, as psychedelic drugs enter the mainstream.

Airline passengers must now fear drug-crazed jump seat passengers — perhaps even pilots.

In a culture bent on self-destruction, why would you expect anything less?

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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