Alaska Airlines Pilot Attempted Engine Shutdown After Consuming Psychedelic Mushrooms

He recently experimented with psychedelic mushrooms because his mental health was deteriorating

by Sededin Dedovic
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Alaska Airlines Pilot Attempted Engine Shutdown After Consuming Psychedelic Mushrooms
© John Moore / Getty Images

An Alaska Airlines pilot, Joseph David Emerson, found himself entangled in a harrowing incident during an off-duty flight that sent shockwaves through the aviation community. Emerson's actions, attempting to shut down the plane's engines, raised questions about his mental state and the factors contributing to this alarming episode.

Emerson, a 44-year-old pilot, later disclosed to law enforcement that he believed he was undergoing a severe nervous breakdown. This admission shed light on the profound personal challenges he was facing at the time, including his deteriorating mental health.

He mentioned a recent experiment with psychedelic mushrooms as part of an attempt to cope with his mounting psychological struggles. While court documents did not explicitly confirm whether Emerson was under the influence of psychedelic mushrooms during the flight, an FBI agent's report indicated that the pilot admitted to consuming them for the first time.

The potential connection between this psychedelic experience and his subsequent actions on the plane became a subject of intense scrutiny.

The incident underscores the importance of mental health support and monitoring within the aviation industry

The incident unfolded during a flight from Washington state to California, as Emerson, remarkably seated in the booster seat, tried to tamper with the aircraft's engines.

It was the vigilant plane crew who promptly reported his actions, leading to his arrest for attempted murder. The safety of the flight was swiftly jeopardized, prompting a quick decision to divert the plane to Portland International Airport.

With over 80 passengers on board, the pilot's actions triggered anxiety and panic. Thanks to the professionalism of the flight crew and swift intervention by law enforcement, a potentially catastrophic situation was averted, and the aircraft made a safe landing at Portland airport.

The incident underscores the importance of mental health support and monitoring within the aviation industry and the broader community, as pilots grapple with the immense responsibility of ensuring passenger safety while dealing with their own personal challenges.

The case also emphasizes the significance of rigorous screening and evaluations for those entrusted with the operation of commercial flights, as the consequences of such lapses can be truly dire.

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