Joseph Emerson, a 44-year-old Alaska Airlines pilot, has broken his silence on the harrowing event that unfolded when he consumed magic mushrooms prior to a flight. Speaking from a Portland county jail, Emerson shared a disturbing account of the near-catastrophe that resulted in 83 counts of attempted murder charges.
Emerson admitted to taking the psychedelic drugs two days before the fateful flight while on a weekend getaway to remember his late best friend. The drugs led to a sleepless stupor and a disconnection from reality, causing him to question his surroundings and experience panic attacks.
According to Emerson, his feeling of dissociation continued for days, intensifying during boarding and the flight itself. As the plane reached cruising altitude, he exhibited erratic behavior and proclaimed that he was not okay. In a struggle to keep the jet in the air, he grabbed the plane's emergency fire suppression handles, prompting the flight to make an emergency diversion to Portland.
In his first interview, Emerson confessed that his actions were a result of a psychedelic 'bad trip' that he couldn't shake off. He described feeling paranoid, fearful of his friends, and questioning the authenticity of his reality. Sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, Emerson believed that waking himself up was the only way out of his haze.
Following the incident, Emerson was charged with 83 counts of attempted murder and awaits trial without bail. He expressed remorse for the danger he caused and acknowledged the exemplary job done by the flight crew in keeping everyone safe.
Emerson's wife, Sarah Stretch, was shocked to learn about his experiment with psychedelics, as aviation had been his lifelong dream. Uncertain about his future as a pilot, Emerson intends to be transparent about his actions and the impact they had on himself and others.
While this incident underscores the dangers of drug use and flying, it also serves as a reminder of the immense responsibility pilots have in ensuring the safety of their passengers. The aviation industry will undoubtedly be closely examining its protocols in light of this near-catastrophe.