Airline Pilot Charged with 83 Counts of Attempted Murder – Tried to Shut Down Engines in Flight

a plane on the runway
Written by Charlie

A Horizon Air (Alaska Airlines) plane had a “credibly security threat” as an off-duty pilot tried to shut down the engines. He has been charged with 83 counts of attempted murder.

This is a story that came out earlier and more information has since come out about a Horizon Air pilot (a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines) who tried to shut down the engines during flight. Here is what we know so far.

Pilot Tried to Shut Down Engines

On Sunday, Horizon Air flight 2059 was flying from Everett to San Francisco. There was an off-duty pilot, Joseph David Emerson, who was in the jump seat (a seat in the cockpit reserved for crew or other authorized people – like FCC or NTSB – who are not operating the aircraft).

The plane ended up diverting to Portland, safely, after Emerson tried to shut down the engines. You can go to this ATC recording and queue it up to 10:56 to hear the pilot telling the controllers that the pilot was subdued and in the back. He requested law enforcement to be ready when they landed.

Upon landing, Emerson was arrested and, according to this page on the sheriff’s office website, he was booked at 4:11AM on October 23 and charged with 83 counts of attempted murder (an A felony), 83 counts of reckless endangerment (an A misdemeanor), and one count of endangering an aircraft (a C felony). (HT: xJonNYC)

In a statement given by Alaska Air Group, they said: “The crew secured the aircraft without incident. All passengers on board were able to travel on a later flight. We are grateful for the professional handling of the situation by the Horizon flight crew and appreciate our guests’ calm and patience throughout this event.”

Well done, indeed, to the crew onboard in being able to take care of this in-flight. We always hear the flight attendants saying that they are there primarily for our safety and this is likely one of the safety threats that most never anticipate. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the pilots to have a threat like this inside the cockpit from a supposedly trusted co-worker.

At the same time, I am incredibly grateful that this pilot wasn’t flying a craft himself when this happened.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.