Audio reveals moments after off-duty pilot allegedly tried to shut down engines of SF-bound flight

Joseph David Emerson from Pleasant Hill is charged with 83 counts of attempted murder, officials say

ABC7 Bay Area Digital Staff Image
Tuesday, October 24, 2023
Audio reveals off-duty pilot's alleged attempt to shut down plane
Here's the Air Traffic Control audio recording moments after off-duty pilot allegedly attempted to shut down an Alaska Airline plane's engines.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGO) -- A San Francisco-bound flight from Washington took a drastic turn Sunday night after an off-duty pilot tried to shut down a Horizon Air passenger jet engines mid-flight.

Authorities in Oregon identified the man as Joseph David Emerson, 44, of Pleasant Hill. He was being held Monday on 83 counts each of attempted murder and reckless endangerment and one count of endangering an aircraft, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office.

RELATED: Alaska Airlines passengers describe Bay Area pilot's demeanor, moments leading up to arrest

Passengers who were onboard Alaska Airlines describe what led up to the off-duty pilot arrest after he allegedly tried to shut down the engines.

The frightening ordeal happened on a flight from Everett, Washington to San Francisco.

The plane ended up being diverted and safely landed in Portland, Oregon.

RELATED: What we know about off-duty Bay Area pilot accused of trying to shut down engines of SF-bound flight

Here's what we know about Joseph David Emerson, the pilot accused of trying to shut off the engines of an Alaska Airlines flight.

ABC7 News has audio of the crew talking to air traffic control after Emerson was brought under control.

"Okay, I'll just give you a heads up. We got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit and he doesn't sound like he's causing an issue in the back right now. I think he's subdued. Other than that, yeah, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked."

You can listen to the full recording in the media player above

RELATED: Off-duty pilot tried to take control of SF-bound flight, charged with 83 counts of attempted murder

Alaska Airlines said the off-duty pilot was sitting in the flight deck jump seat -- which is in the cockpit -- and "unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines."

The captain and first officer "quickly responded," Alaska said, adding engine power was not lost and the crew secured the aircraft without incident.

There were 80 passengers and four crew members on the flight, according to Alaska.

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