Heroes In The Sky: Local 1224 Pilots Receive Award for Saving the Lives of Everyone Aboard Alaska Air Flight

Safety Award Ceremony

A Safety Excellence Award Ceremony was recently held in Portland, Oregon to honor Captain Emil Riemer & First Officer Alan Koziol. The two pilots were operating Horizon Flight 2059 from Everett, WA (PAE) to San Francisco, CA (SFO) last October, when an off‐duty Alaska Airlines pilot occupying the jump seat unsuccessfully attempted to disrupt the operation of the engines. There were around 80 passengers aboard the flight. 

Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman joined Teamsters Local 1224 President Joe Muckle and Horizon Air Pilots Executive Council Chairman Henry Simkins to formally recognize their efforts. 

“Their actions that day are a perfect embodiment of Teamster values—solidarity, courage, and a commitment to the well-being of others,” said Zuckerman. “They prevented what could have been a tragedy, and for that, we are here to honor them.”

Situations such as the one that unfolded last fall are a solemn reminder of the important role pilots play in the cockpit.  When things go wrong, the only thing standing between an airline and a catastrophic accident is the human element – the pilots.  Whether it is an unforeseen incident with a passenger or a jumpseater, an automation error that requires correction, or system failures, pilots are the last line of defense.

“There is no doubt that the pilots’ ability to make split-second decisions, perform under pressure, stay calm, and deescalate the situation helped to protect the passengers and crew,” said Muckle.

“These men are heroes. Not everyone is capable of what they did that fateful day. In fact, very few people are,” Zuckerman said. “I want to express my deepest appreciation to these two pilots for their unfathomable courage. They are a shining example of what it means to be a Teamster.”