The commercial airline pilot charged with nearly killing dozens of passengers is speaking out for first time, believing he could have snapped out of his terrifying hallucinogenic state if he destroyed the plane.
Joseph Emerson was interviewed Friday by the New York Times in Portland’s Multnomah County Jail, telling a reporter, “I thought it would stop both engines, the plane would start to head towards a crash, and I would wake up.”
Emerson was arrested for the bizarre October 22 incident aboard a flight from Washington state to San Francisco. He was charged with 83 counts of attempted murder — one for each passenger — and is currently being held without bond.
He told The Times his nightmare began two days earlier when he consumed magic mushrooms with friends while reminiscing about another buddy who had passed away in 2018.
He said the death had a traumatic impact on his life, falling into a deep funk and seeking out therapists to cope with the loss.
Fast forward to Oct. 22. Emerson said he was continuing to self-medicate and ingest the ‘shrooms with his friends, who he thought were mocking him and scheming to harm him.
He said feelings of fear and dread washed over him on his way to the airport, boarding the one-hour flight to San Francisco as a passenger — not a pilot — since he was off duty at the time.
Before the doors closed on the plane, Emerson said he texted a friend, claiming he was having a panic attack.
After the flight took off, Emerson said he went completely nuts, screaming, “I’m not OK,” before activating the plane’s two fire-suppression handles.
According to a police report, the pilots flying the plane grabbed Emerson’s wrists and ripped him away from the control panel so he couldn’t cut the fuel supply or shut down the engines.
The report says Emerson then yelled, “You need to cuff me right now, or it’s going to be bad!” He also allegedly guzzled coffee from a pot, tried to open the emergency door and demanded to know if all this was real.
It certainly was because Emerson was arrested after the plane made an emergency landing. To top everything off, Emerson allegedly took off his clothes, attempted to dive out a window, peed on himself and masturbated.
Emerson told The Times, “I am horrified that those actions put myself at risk and others at risk.”