HomeViralPilot Allegedly Tried To Crash Plane To ‘Wake Up’ From Bad Mushroom Trip
Pilot Allegedly Tried To Crash Plane To ‘Wake Up’ From Bad Mushroom Trip
November 11, 2023
Off-duty pilot Joseph Emerson is facing 83 attempted murder counts for trying to crash a plane. He recently revealed that he believed it would snap him out of a mushroom-induced delusion, according to new reports.
Emerson’s mental breakdown intensified after eating magic mushrooms during a weekend trip, leading him to question reality. Despite colleagues preventing a potential disaster mid-flight, Emerson was arrested and now reflects on the risks posed by his decision.
Pilot Allegedly Tried To Crash Plane To ‘Wake Up’ From A Bad Mushroom Trip
On October 22, an off-duty pilot, Joseph Emerson, was accused of attempting to crash a fully occupied plane and now faces 83 counts of attempted murder.
In an interview with The New York Timesfrom his jail in Portland, Emerson shared details about the bizarre incident. He asserted that he was under the influence of a mushroom-induced delusion and believed crashing the plane would jolt him out of his mental breakdown and paranoia, thinking it was all a dream.
“I thought it would stop both engines, the plane would start to head towards a crash, and I would wake up,” he shared.
Pilot Recalls His Traumatic Thoughts And Panic Attack
Emerson’s descent into turmoil started 48 hours earlier during a weekend trip with friends, where they consumed magic mushrooms to remember a late friend.
Grieving deeply after the 2018 loss of his friend, therapists had urged Emerson to seek medical help for depression, a path he avoided due to Virgin America’s stringent work rules against prescribed medications.
Opting for self-medication, Emerson tried hallucinogens for the first time, triggering a week-long ordeal. After taking the mushroom, the 44-year-old’s feelings of unease and suspicion toward his friends intensified, leading to a belief that they might be conspiring to hurt him.
“I felt fearful of them,” he recalled. “I thought of a lot of traumatic things in that time where I was like, ‘Am I dead? Is this hell? I’m reliving that trauma.”
Heading to the airport, where things seemed even more puzzling, his conviction that he was in purgatory intensified. According to the pilot, everything seemed nonsensical, from GPS directions to the flight attendants’ actions. Texting a friend, Emerson expressed a belief that he was undergoing a panic attack.
Pilot Reflects On His Behavior And Praises Flight Crew For Handling The Situation
While on the flight from Washington to Oregon, Emerson’s behavior alarmed his colleagues.
Growing increasingly agitated, Emerson notably said, “I’m not OK,” before he abruptly activated the jet’s fire suppression handles mid-flight, aiming to cut fuel and shut down both engines. Swift action by other pilots prevented a potential disaster.
According to a flight crew who spoke to the authorities, Emerson sought restraint during his erratic behavior, saying: “You need to cuff me right now, or it’s going to be bad.”
His bizarre behavior continued as he questioned reality, attempted to reach the emergency door, and expressed concerns about his mental state.
In a text to friends, he wrote, “I’m having a mental breakdown and tried to turn off both engines on my flight home.” In another text to his wife, he added: “I’ve made a big mistake.”
Upon the emergency landing, Emerson was arrested and now faces 83 charges of attempted murder. After his psychotic break, Emerson, reflecting on his actions, expressed horror at the risks posed and praised the crew’s exemplary response.
“I am horrified that those actions put myself at risk and others at risk,” he said. “That crew got dealt with in a situation where there’s no manual, checklist, or procedure that’s been written for. And they did an exemplary job keeping me and the rest of the people on that plane safe.”
Pilot Opted For Self-Medication For His Mental Health Because Of Strict Airline Rules
In an interview with the outlet, Sarah Stretch, Emerson’s wife, shared that he resisted taking antidepressants due to fear of jeopardizing his pilot career. She revealed that despite discussions about medication, he hesitated, only willing to take allergy pills.
Describing aviation as his life’s passion since childhood, Stretch explained: “His pilot career was his life. This kid, since he was 11 years old, wanted to be an airline pilot.”
Insider’s Michelle Mark had previously highlighted the pilot’s reluctance to seek mental health treatment, as aviation regulations could ground them during the Federal Aviation Administration’s medical evaluation process, a sentiment echoed by aviation attorney Joe LoRusso.