Off-Duty Pilot Charged With 83 Counts of Attempted Murder After Trying to Shut Down Plane Engine Mid-Flight The Alaska Airlines flight was headed to San Francisco from Everett, Washington, before it made an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon.

By Emily Rella

Travelers on an Alaska Airlines flight faced a mid-flight nightmare after an off-duty pilot, sitting in the cockpit, tried to shut off the plane's engine, the airline said.

Joseph Emerson, age 44, was charged with 83 felony counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft after trying to shut down the engine on a Horizon Airlines (operated by Alaska) flight on the way to San Francisco, California from Everett, Washington. The on-duty pilot made an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon.

"We've got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit," the pilot allegedly said during an air traffic control recording of the situation obtained by local outlet KATU. "He doesn't sound like he's causing any issue in the back right now, and I think he's subdued. Other than that, yeah, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and parked."

Related: Alaska Airlines Brewing Coffee That Tastes Better In the Air

Emerson was reportedly sitting in the jump seat in the cockpit when the incident occurred. No one was injured during the attempted takeover.

"Following appropriate FAA procedures and guidance from air traffic control, the flight safely diverted to Portland International Airport," Alaska Airlines said in a statement to CNN. "The event is being investigated by law enforcement authorities."

The FBI said "there is no continuing threat related to this incident," per CBS. There are no details on Emerson's motivation as of press time.

Alaska Airlines did not immediately respond to Entrepreneur's request for comment.

Related: Southwest Ranked Worst Ranked Airline of 2023: Report

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

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