When an off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot tried to kill the engines on a commercial flight earlier this week, every reaction seemed to coalesce around a single question: “Hey, bud, why’d you do that?” Now, after a police interview, it seems the pilot has finally given us the answer. Turns out he was high as balls.
Joseph Emerson, the pilot who had attempted to shut off the engines on the Embraer E175 jet, told police in an interview that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms for the first time before boarding the flight. Emerson also claimed to have not slept in 40 hours, according to the New York Times:
In an interview with the police after he was taken into custody, the pilot, Joseph D. Emerson, 44, said he had not slept in 40 hours and had been depressed for about six months, according to a federal criminal complaint.
The officer and Mr. Emerson “talked about the use of psychedelic mushrooms, and Emerson said it was his first time taking mushrooms,” the criminal complaint states.
“I didn’t feel OK,” Mr. Emerson told the police, according to the criminal complaint. “It seemed like the pilots weren’t paying attention to what was going on.”
He also told the police, according to the complaint, “I pulled both emergency shut off handles because I thought I was dreaming and I just wanna wake up.”
Emerson apparently didn’t inform investigators about how the mushrooms were ingested, which means we still have some fun questions in this story. My theory is that he covered a pizza in them as a pre-flight snack, Tash Sultana style. Driving under the influence is bad enough, but flying with psychedelic mushrooms in your system seems a step or two worse.