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Pilot jailed (alcoholism & pilots)

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Pilot jailed (alcoholism & pilots)

Old 10th Dec 2006, 09:33
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As question and point interest to all the guys and gals who have been supportive of re-habilitation of this individual (who would seem to have disregarded his professional responsibilities and carried out a criminal act).
How many of you would be arguing for tolerance, understanding, re-habilitiation and re-integration if this was a teacher at your kids school who had been downloading kiddieporn? Not so many of you i think yet all of the arguments you use could apply. (treatment / supervision etc)
Alcohol is so much a part of our culture and it's use so widely accepted that anyone who falls foul of it is invariably "a nice bloke who made a mistake".
I'm a professional Pilot who drinks and enjoys drinking Alcohol. I also know that it is my responsibility to ensure that it does not affect my flying. If it does then it is right and proper that i suffer the consequences (before anyone else does).
Society is already suffering hugely as a result of the behavior of people who are addicted to or abuse various substances. Individuals are still responsible for their actions, even if they are addicted to the point that they cannot control them,.
Stands back and waits for uproar.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 09:52
  #42 (permalink)  
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Judging a fellow by what one read not really knowing all the facts is unfortunately common today. One would expect a bit of understanding from its own breed, but it turns out in this case that your colleagues are your worst enemies.
Those colleagues of course never ever drunk a glass of alcohol in their career less than 10 hours before reporting to duty and would immediately report to the authorities even their best friend if they seven suspected he had one too many while a work.
They of course have never suffered any serious problems in their life and can judge without a doubt that they would never resort to drinking alcohol to soften the burden when that happens.
Now does that make it all right to drink on duty then ? , of course not, but sending the guy in Jail and prevent him for pursuing a career ever after is neither the solution one would expect from some of his colleagues..


And yes, it is all about giving second chances. The whole life is based on second chances, I would not be here today if I had not been given second chances a some point , and probably with similar “ Ayatollahs” in charge , the Wright Brothers would have continued making bicycles.

Now, I am going to open my bottle of St Julien for Lunch.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 10:11
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Drunks

Originally Posted by Another Number
Maybe "alcoholics" cannot be reformed.
Originally Posted by Another Number

There are enough evidence from medical records indicating that the disease can be controlled. Yet, since it is caused by a particular "genetic wiring" of the brain, such individuals (alcoholics) will never be considered "cured."
Like diabetes and hypertension, alcoholism is a "controllable" disease.

Who'd want them in really important roles.

There are a few individuals who managed to stop drinking and went on to live and work as "normal" people. Not all ex-drunks, obviously, would be able to take charge of anything important.



You'd never give the keys to the Oval Office to a "reformed drunk", now would you!

Well, Mr. Bush Junior is there, isn't he?
What about the keys given to the late Dick Nixon?

That would be ridiculous, putting a "reformed drunk" in charge of the goddam planet!

The oval office is not in control of the planet; it tries to, but without any effective success.



BTW: This talk of so & so times the legal limit ... was this from a reporter? What's the legal limit in the country in question!?
As per company policy and the countrie's laws, the legal limit is ZERO. Apparently, in the UK, there is a limit of some 20 micrograms per a certain amount of blood, as I was told.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 10:16
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Ignition Override

Singapore is actually a very nice place, oh and it is not part of the middle east. This seems to be a common misconception…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0AhvoxW9XI

Had many a good beer there.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 10:27
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Now, I am going to open my bottle of St Julien for Lunch. [/quote]

Hope you are not going to fly

I agree with you, though. I've known the fellow in question for some fifteen years. I have flown with him many times and he was always a very meticulous, cautious, and dedicated professional.
Something went wrong along the line.

Jail will not teach him anything; it will only serve as humiliation and severe punishment. Losing his job and career was severe enough.




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Old 10th Dec 2006, 10:37
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You might be right regarding these numbers.

As a non-drinker, all these limits mean very little to me
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 10:57
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Judging a fellow by what one read not really knowing all the facts is unfortunately common today.
Too true, ATC Watcher.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 12:45
  #48 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Thylakoid
Now, I am going to open my bottle of St Julien for Lunch.


Hope you are not going to fly


[/QUOTE]

Not today no, my aircraft is on maintenance this week, but I might have . But I just said I was opening the bottle, : you see there is a whole range of possibilities between opening a bottle and emptying it on my own .
If I was going to fly later in the day, I would have limited my consumption to a quarter of a glass with my meal and shared the rest with my lunch company.
This is our tradition in the country I am originating from.
.
Back in the good old days where Air France was an airline operating airplanes driven by cables and rods and flown by a team of 3 , it was customary for the cockpit crew to have a similar half a glass of wine with their crew meals. During that period the company did not crash an aircraft every 2 years like it does now. In fact if you look your statistics up you will find that AF did not have a single crash in 20 years during that period.

I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions , but not too serious ones please..
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 17:57
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Pilots and Alcohol

My name is Lyle Prouse and I was the infamous Northwest Airlines Captain back in March of '90 who was arrested on Northwest Flight 650 (FAR-MSP) for flying drunk, along with the copilot and second officer.

Subsequently, I was fired by NWA, stripped of my flight certificates, and lost my medical due to alcoholism. I became a national pariah, was sent to federal prison for 16 months, served 14, and went broke within 30 days of the arrest. Furthermore, the trial judge put sanctions on me to insure I'd never fly again due to my age (51 at the time).

I want to be clear about a number of things. First, I make no excuses, I accept complete responsibility, and I openly acknowledge that everything that happened to me was fair and appropriate. Period.

Having said that, let me turn to some of the comments offered by a number of pilots in this forum. Some of those comments indicate some knowledge and understanding of the subject of alcohol/alcoholism and some indicate ignorance bolstered by arrogance.

When I talk about alcoholism I separate the issues between the acts and behavior (and the consequences that flow from that) - and the disease itself.

Being an alcoholic does not relieve me of responsibility for what I do nor does it grant me any immunity or excuse anything. Anytime I commit an unlawful act, alcoholic or not, it's incumbent upon me to accept the consequences of that act.

It should be noted that while alcoholism is not an excuse for behavior it very clearly explains a lot of it in the case of the alcoholic. It might surprise some to know that since I got sober over 16 yrs ago I've never flown drunk or received a DUI... Nor have I done any of the shameful, disgraceful, offensive, and embarrassing things that drunks routinely do.

One of THE first steps of recovery demands acceptance of personal responsibility and being accountable. So the talking heads, Bill O'Reilly for one, who declare that the only reason for treating alcoholism as a disease is so those with it can escape responsibility, is absurd beyond words. Those ideas only come from non-alcoholics...in my experience.

I have been sober since the date of my arrest, over 16 years and some nine months now. I am active in recovery, speak all over the United States and Canada (for free, of course), have been involved with virtually every major airline in their alcohol programs. I am of Native American heritiage and I've spoken on reservations in the US and Canada, and at Native American sobriety conventions.

I served out my prison time, came out broke and disgraced, and eventually earned back each of the four licenses I needed, commencing with the private and doing it, quite literally, from the ground up...after the judge miraculously lifted the sanctions on me. I did it the same way I stay sober, one day at a time, one thing at a time, one step at a time, and one license at a time.

I'd never had a private license - I came out of the Marine Corps as a Vietnam vet and quickly acquired a Com'l ticket and inst rating after a quickie test...and was hired 3 weeks later by NWA (Aug '68). I had gone in as a barely 18 yr old private and I left 11 1/2 yrs later as a Captain and jet pilot with an excellent reputation.

Not quite four years after my arrest and imprisonment, the Pres/CEO of NWA, Mr. John Dasburg, personally reinstated me to full flight status at NWA. It was an act of personal courage on his part that the word "extraordinary" doesn't even begin to approach.

I retired honorably at age 60, in Sept '98, as a 747 captain, having done all I could to fully vindicate all those who had believed in me. Additionally, the tough Minnesota judge who tried and sent me to prison suggested, as I retired, that I apply for a presidential pardon and said he'd support it even tho he'd NEVER supported a petition for pardon in his 16 yrs on the bench. Two years later I rec'd a Pres Pardon - a HUGE, life altering event for a federal felon!

To one contributor who said alcoholism is a lifetime disease and implied we who are recovering are delicately balanced on the razor's edge and might relapse anytime, I say he is only partially correct. It is a lifetime disease, that's why it's called Alcohol-ISM and not Alcohol-WASM. But so is diabetes and a number of other chronic diseases. And, yes, some never make it, never recover, and never stay sober - and they die (both my parents took this disease to their graves).

But to discount the millions of us around the world who live good, productive, solid lives in recovery displays a shallow and ignorant way of thinking. And to say no alcoholic should ever be trusted in the cockpit because they might relapse is absurd. Anyone in the cockpit might keel over, have a stroke, heart attack, brain anueryism, or some other possible problem and it's nonsense thinking to make a blanket pronouncement and condemnation of everyone based on what "might" happen.

Many don't make it. But many don't survive cancer, heart disease, and other calamities of life. The airlines have THE most successful rate of alcoholism recovery among any group, virtually double the norm in the rest of our society. And they do a good job of weeding out those who will not or cannot get sober - and that's as it should be.

I'm well aware that there are those, still today, who think I should have been put against a wall and shot; and that I most certainly NEVER should have been allowed to fly again. Fortunately, I don't think that reflects most of the heart and soul of the American character who, traditionally, support and encourage the underdog and applaud comebacks.

Alcoholism is a treatable, recoverable disease. Today there are over 3500 recovering alcoholic pilots flying for airlines. One of the leading docs I know (who's worked in the aviation/alcoholism field for over 30 yrs) says, "When I get on the plane I glance in the cockpit. If it's a face I recognize, I breathe a sigh of relief. If it's one I don't...then I sit in the back and wonder."

To each his/her own. I doubt anything I've said here will change any minds and may only provoke further debate. My only purpose here is to speak the truth as I know it and do it quietly and clearly.

Being an alcoholic was something I first viewed as a disgraceful, shameful, stigmatic curse. It has evolved into the greatest thing that ever occurred to me because of what it has forced me to do. My kids won't have to watch me die a grim, lingering alcoholic death, as I had to with my parents. My life today is geared toward giving back more than I ever took, making amends where ever possible, and being constantly grateful for the joy of sobriety and the brightness of each day.

What I have expressed here today is not something unique to me. It is shared by virtually every recovering person I know. I just came home a few minutes ago from speaking in Denver last night. As is always the case, I met people who inspire me and make me glad I was forced into a program of recovery I NEVER would have willingly accepted when I was drinking.

Blue skies,
Lyle Prouse
Ex federal inmate 04478-041
Ret'd NWA Capt 086140
Marine Capt 086099
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 18:04
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With any addiction or habit comes the issue of personal responsibility.

I have been and am a pilot for over 54 years, with my decision to seek help to cure an addiction to alcohol came an even greater resposibility to ensure that should I ever decide to go back to drinking again I would never ever again fly an airplane.

To concrete this resolve I gave both my doctor and Transport Canada access to my medical records at Shick Shadel Hospital with the instructions that should I ever decide to drink alcohol again my aviation medical and license was to be cancelled...period.

It is all part of decision making and a debt I owe to the industry.

And I do not hide behind anonimity as I have nothing to hide.

I only post this in the hope someone out there may be able to make the right decision in their own life.

Chuck E
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 18:17
  #51 (permalink)  
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The dreaded alccohol!

About 20 years ago, I was a FM with an LGW airline. We had a captain who was always "smelling of drink" and I had received many complaints from cabin staff. We could never get to the bottom of things until he was caught out on an overseas detachment by the FO who called me one night and told me the capt had been drinking heavily during the early evening and was now in bed, but what should he do? I explained that as he was the only other crew member there, if he still suspected the capt was under the influence in the morning, it was up to him to stop the flight even if he "went sick" himself.
In the event, the aircraft got airborne and flew the sector and I assumed all was well. The CP had been brought into the story however and grounded the capt on landing where he was breathalized and found to be well over the top.
The individual was dowgraded to F/O and the we placed him on a monthly monitoring regime by the company doctor. He agreed to this action, but within a couple of weeks requested to leave the company. Although we felt he was taking his problem away with him, we let him go. He joined another small airline and within six months had been fired for drinking on duty.
Sadly the pilot concerned died later, but my point is that one can take a horse to water..... but.... We were prepared to go an extra mile for the guy but in the end he was determined to keep drinking and there was only one outcome possible.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 19:55
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L Prouse

Amazing post, well done.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 20:07
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Goodness Lyle, that is a wonderful post.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 20:32
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Per mare, per terrum, simper fidelis. My hat off to you sir.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 20:55
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Lyle:

You have my admiration.

Chuck E.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 22:12
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When I read comments such as those by niknak, who sincerely hopes the pilot “serves the full sentance (sic)” and “never, ever flys (sic) again”, rigga who thinks making him serve "all his small sentence won't hurt him much more” and Saskatoon who thinks the pilot deserves “no compassion at all”, I feel reassured.

Reassured that, despite three decades in a career in which I’ve prosecuted and defended people who’ve been sent to prison, and sent people to prison myself for anything from a month to Life, I can still have compassion for people whose lives have fallen apart because of a single mistake.

Those who speak so lightly about decent hard-working people being sent to prison clearly have no comprehension of the enormous impact of a prison sentence upon them, particularly if it happens late in their lives.
I've sat in a cell with them just after they've been sentenced, doing my best to explain what to expect after they are carted off in handcuffs to prison. Even when they knew prison was inevitable, they are reeling from the shock because their nightmare has now become a reality.
I also know that, however dreadful they feel then, they are going to feel much worse when they wake the next morning and the terrible reality really sinks in.

How anyone can have no compassion for the pilot is beyond my comprehension, as is the hope that his career is finished for ever.
(Opinions will differ about whether sending someone like this pilot to prison serves any useful purpose, but that's for another discussion. )

The suggestion by some that the majority view here is simply professional pilots being loyal to a colleague is silly. I’m not a professional pilot, and nor FWIW am I a heavy drinker.


Interesting, impressive and very moving posts by Chuck Ellsworth and Lyle Prouse.
I salute them both.
Their contributions are far more thought-provoking than some of the taboid-style drivel in the sanctimonious posts.



FL
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 22:45
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Lyle

Fantastic post, many congratulations on your achievements. My heart goes out to you - must have been a difficult few years. Have a great retirement!
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 23:25
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Well done Lyle and I concur with the above posters about the fine quality of your post. I stated earlier
I just hope he hasn't access to a computer and is reading all this vitriol from his prison cell.
Well I do hope now he has been reading this thread and in particular your post.
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Old 10th Dec 2006, 23:43
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Response to Flying Lawyer

Thank you, sir. Your description of what happens to a client immediately after sentencing is disturbingly accurate.

At my sentencing, the judge offered to let all three of us remain free pending appeals, since this was the first time this law had ever been applied and there were many complex legal issues. The other two opted to remain free. I told the judge I had been convicted and it was time for me to go into prison...because I had learned how to "live life on life's terms" as we said in treatment, and I refused to whistle in the dark.

I was terrified of walking in there but I recalled something I'd learned as a Marine, that "Courage is not the absence of fear; it's the ability to continue in the face of it."

No one who has ever walked into prison will ever again glimpse life or the world as he or she once did prior. When I speak from the podium I never talk about prison...because I think it's irrelevant to my recovery. But my recovery, the power of what I learned in each of the 12 steps, and the principles behind each one, greatly impacted how I handled prison.

The comments that follow are simply a narrative; they are NOT a plea for sympathy because I deserved none. I did what I did and I got what I got, and it was fair. However, as my judge said when he sentenced us, "The greatest sorrow is reserved for the wives and children, but I do not have the power to ease that."

The public at large, as you so eloquently describe, has no clue about the impact of being locked up in the midst of 24 hour insanity that seemingly has no end.

The smell of rain is different in there, the moon looks different at night, and the feel of a breeze on one's face is not the same as free air. I was accustomed to being free...and it was not easy for me. So I did it one day at a time...shorter when necessary...for 424 days.

There are two incredibly sick groups in prison and the sickest group goes home every night. It is a system that is so sick, twisted, and obscene that no one believes it and it's self-protected in that regard. It is a system designed to emotionally castrate and permanently scar all who enter. And it is usually successful.

No one can describe the feeling of having a wife and children come visit their convict husband and father, dressed in drab prison khakis, treated as a sub-human by the guards, and surrounded by the oppressing prison atmosphere.

I had been the standard bearer in my family for duty, honor, country. I had been the one who espoused character, honesty, and integrity as my kids grew up. But in the disgrace I brought upon myself it all seemed hollow and for naught.

In the long term I was able to experience something one of my meditation books said. "My father didn't tell me how to live," it said, "He lived and let me watch him do it."

I never expected to have to be the example that was forced my way. But hopefully, what my children witnessed as I made the long climb back out of the blackest valley of disgrace and despair to the beauty of the sunlit mountain top, may have more impact on them than all the words I spoke in all the years preceding. Walking the walk will always take precedence over talking the talk. And it was a long walk indeed. A million miles, one step at a time.

There are those posting here who cavalierly dismiss and declare, with a wave of their hand and a smug smile, how frivolous prison seems to them. But no one who has been there, or who has had a son or daughter there, will do that.

Or they will utter what I consider the most inane comment of all: "Well...they should have thought of that before they did it." Think about it a moment. If people did actually did that there would never be any crime. What I did, and what the other pilots did who've gotten in trouble with alcohol, was not premediated; it was not intentional. We didn't sit down and weigh the pros and cons. Not one of us said, "I think, given the wonderful life and career I have, that I'll go out and destroy it tonight, end up in the headlines, and go to prison." It's a stupidly ridiculous comment that most of us simply nod affirmatively to and never give any further thought. It may sound good but it flies in the face of human nature.

I will not take time nor space to share with you the experience I had with the attorney representing me. He was as impacted by this whole experience as I was and our relationship became a unique one as we went through this together. He worked for me for several years afterwards, refusing to take a cent (which I didn't have but would have paid over time) - and his response was always the same - "I believe in you and I'm staying to the end, wherever that is." And he did.

So many others also did.

Two weeks after I entered prison my wife came in and told me nine of my fellow pilots had self assessed themselves and were making our house payments. Two of them I didn't even know. And they did this for nearly four years in spite of four concerted attempts on my part to get them to stop.

There are many good people in this world...and then there are the grandiose, the smug, the superior, and the ignorant. To those who somehow feel they've lived a life free of fault I simply suggest they may have set their standards far too low.

Blue skies,
Lyle Prouse
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 00:50
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Lyle, there are just too many words that are appro to your post - honest, eloquent, thoughtful, human, understanding, courage, determination, enlightment, educational. Rather than infamous, might I suggest an award winning tale of achievement. At the end of the day I stand somewhat in awe of your achievement and can say nothing but BRAVO ZULU. Also to Chuck congratulations - BRAVO ZULU.
Blue Skies to you both,
Brian
PS Lyle how come you use MY sign off.
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