The pilot who attempted to shut fuel off to the engines of an Alaska Airlines jet last month after ingesting magic mushrooms has said that he had no intention of hurting anyone – but was trying to come out of a hallucinogenic state.
“I thought it would stop both engines, the plane would start to head towards a crash, and I would wake up,” Joseph Emerson, 44, told the New York Times in a jailhouse interview published on Friday.
Emerson, who has pleaded not guilty to 83 counts of attempted murder of the plane’s passengers and crew, told the outlet that he had taken psychedelic mushrooms two days earlier while commemorating the death of his best friend on a weekend getaway.
But the drugs, he said, had plunged him into grief and alerted him to his fragile mental health. After the plane made an emergency landing in Portland, Oregon, Emerson told police he had had “a nervous breakdown”, had not slept for 40 hours and had struggled with depression for months.
According to an affidavit, Emerson had later warned a flight attendant: “You need to cuff me right now, or it’s going to be bad.”
But even as the plane descended he allegedly tried to open an emergency exit, thinking that if he jumped out he would wake up, the outlet reported.
“I am horrified that those actions put myself at risk and others at risk,” he continued. “That crew got dealt a situation there’s no manual, checklist or procedure that’s been written for.”
But Emerson predicted, almost certainly accurately, that he won’t be flying planes any more. “I don’t know if I’ll ever fly an airplane again. I really don’t. And I had a moment where that kind of became obvious,” he said.
Emerson also told the Times that he had not properly dealt with ongoing mental health problems for fear of losing his pilot’s license before his arrest.
After ingesting the magic mushrooms and in the middle of the episode, he said he started feeling like “this wasn’t real” and was overwhelmed with paranoia, hallucinations and anxiety about past trauma or shame. He sent a text message to a friend saying he was “having a panic attack.”
“I was like, ‘Am I dead? Is this hell?’” he said, according to the Times.
This article is a repost by The Guardian: Pilot who tried to shut off engines says he was hallucinating on mushrooms
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