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Pilot jailed (alcoholism & pilots)

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Pilot jailed (alcoholism & pilots)

Old 11th Dec 2006, 06:55
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Lyle, I'd like to think that there are a few who've posted on this thread who might, after reading your two excellent posts, reconsider the attitude they've adopted over this matter.

I'd also like to meet and shake the hand of the man from North West who gave you the second chance. Sadly, I don't think there are too many individuals out there in airline senior management today who practise that brand of management.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 07:38
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Lyle,

Your posts are amongst the finest I have ever read, moving and thought provoking.

Thank you and enjoy a long and happy retirement Sir!
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 07:50
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Lyle, Thank you. That does indeed give one perspective. BTW: For those interested, a somewhat extended version of Lyle's story is contained at the AA site (amongst the personal stories - "Grounded"). {I trust there is no problem pointing this out for those who wish to read it?}
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 08:06
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There's quite a range of responses here, from the knee-jerk 'ban him from flying for life' to some very moving accounts of recovery from alcoholism.

I have seen this from both sides, having to work with alcoholics (who usually went unreported and untreated until they could be quietly got rid of, in the old-fashioned way) and also being perched on the rim of the glass just about to slip on a wet spot and fall in. I was lucky to have moved way back from that but I can still think, 'There but for the grace of God go I,' when I read about someone being arrested in this way. People who come across all pompous and self-righteous probably are either deluding themselves or else lack imagination and compassion.

It really is pretty weird the way we have come to accept taking small doses of a neurotoxin ('intoxicated' simply means 'poisoned' in everyday speech, after all) to ease our way in society but it's a given just like smoking, and we have to deal with it. Some of us manage better than others.

Aviation is very strange in the way that it has a very boozy sub-culture (when I think about where I met this or that fellow pilot that was usually in a bar, of course) and now very strict surveillance of drinkers. You could call that 'schizophrenic' in layman's terms.

Perhaps it would be useful for us to be more willing to intervene before it gets to the stage of a fellow pilot being arrested and smeared all over the tabloids but that 'denial' stage of alcoholism usually gets in the way of that. I don't have a ready answer to this problem.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 08:45
  #65 (permalink)  
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The first pilot to be arrested at LHR (and subsequently jailed) for an alcohol-related offence under the new UK laws allowed the full facts of his case to be reported on PPRuNe in the hope that others might benefit from his experience.
It's an interesting thread (if you ignore the distraction of one poster making the same point over and over again in post after post): LHR Breathtest


Rigga's claim that this is 'just the latest of a continuing series of "misdemeanors" that are not given a high enough profile' is absurd.
Every arrest on suspicion has been reported here, whether or not the pilot was later prosecuted.
We even had a report of that nonsense at Manchester where two police constables decided to breath-tested both pilots after a passenger told police the pilots must be drunk because the aircraft had to do a go-around.
Yes, believe it or not, it actually happened: Pilots breathalysed after go-around

His lack of knowledge may partly be explained because (as he says) he's not a pilot but, given his comments such as "a continuing series" and "just another one", it may also be because the facts don't fit his preconceived notions and prejudices. It doesn't seem to occur to him that not many incidents are reported here because there aren't many incidents, despite what he and tabloid journos would like to believe.

The 'smoking hole' and 'hundreds may have died' stuff often trotted out when this topic comes up is not borne out by the stats.


We also had a very useful discussion when the new law was introduced (again, if you ignore distracting posts) : Alcohol and Flying: The new law



.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 09:30
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This chap has lost his job, his house and indeed, his career. It is clear that turning up in such a state ahead of his flight is not something he did for the hell of it so I am at a loss to understand precisely what sending him to prison is going to achieve - especially as the prisons are supposedly so full that dangerous criminals are persistently given derisory sentences and let out early.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 09:59
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Doors - possibly it's because it's against the law? As a deterrent, maybe? It's safe to say that if you're going to turn up over the limit and try to fly, the Gulf region is not the cleverest place in the world to do it in. Not to pick on the Gulf, though - you've seen from other posts it isn't legal in the US of A either.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 10:16
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To Brian Abraham re: my sign off

Hi Brian,

I took the "Blue skies" sign off from a friend of mine, Frank Frey, about 12 years ago. Frank was a kind and gentle man, a former Marine Captain and pilot who was dismissed from the service due to his drinking. He was unable to pursue flying as a living and worked as a fry cook for Waffle House.

Frank was one of us who never managed to get sober and he killed himself after many struggles to recover. He was a tormented soul and he and I spent many hours together, talking about recovery, spending time together, and attending meetings.

Once, when Frank visited me in prison, he smuggled a Mrs. Winner's chicken and biscuit sandwich into the visiting room in his sock. After the visiting room filled up I gulped it down, so fast I barely had time to taste it. It was an act of kindness I never forgot.

Some would view Frank as a hopeless drunk. I saw him otherwise because I understand the disease of alcoholism, and I shed tears at the news of his suicide. Interesting, isn't it, how we view victims of cancer or Alzheimer's and have great sympathy and compassion for them...while we see alcoholics and have nothing but disgust and contempt.

In my sixteen years sober I have lost 36 friends to this disease. Some I have known better than others, but all have been personal friends. Early in my sobriety I was angry when these things took place, considering their loss of life as a needless and unecessary waste. I had always felt that way about my parents' deaths.

As time went on and I understood more, my attitude changed. As I viewed my sobriety more as a gift than an accomplishment, the level of my compassion grew. So today when I attend a funeral of someone who didn't make it, I stand over the casket, look down, and quietly think, "Thank you, my friend, for your sacrifice. Thank you for showing me what will happen if I do what you did. Thank you for allowing me to live another day sober." I am able to convert a negative into a positive if my attitude is what it should be.

And I never lose sight of the fact that the person in the coffin could be me, as well as the drunk sleeping in the doorway or in an alley. As has been said earlier, "There but for the grace of God..."

Blue skies,
Lyle
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 10:43
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Originally Posted by Crosswind Limits
Lyle,

Your posts are amongst the finest I have ever read, moving and thought provoking.

Thank you and enjoy a long and happy retirement Sir!
X2
As a graduate of UND up in good old Grand Forks. ND in 1989 i remember this story in the news. Wonderful to hear your "side" of things Lyle and what you have endured up to this point.
You're winning.
Enjoy retirement!

What became of the other flight crew? Did they go through the same sentencing as you? treatment etc....re certification?
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 11:20
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Consequences for drinking

Dear Doors,

None of us would ever recover if we didn't have consequences to face. The compulsion to drink is powerful and something must be there to help overcome it. Sometimes it's the loss of family, job, self-respect, or blistering headlines and a prison sentence. We must "reach our bottom," where ever that may be. And sometimes the bottom is death.

If the price of our drinking (sometimes refered to as "the high price of low living") didn't somehow become more than we can afford, in whatever currency is important to us, we would continue - period. So consequences are important and vital.

The concept of "enabling" by friends and family simply means that they continually rescue someone who's drinking and allow them to avoid needed consequences. Bailing them out of jail, lying to employers when they miss work, or any one of a million other examples, only adds to the problem and prolongs it. Although usually motivated by love and concern for the individual, it is, in fact, the cruelest thing one can do and eventually results in literally "loving someone to death."

Blue skies,
Lyle Prouse

Originally Posted by Doors to Automatic
This chap has lost his job, his house and indeed, his career. It is clear that turning up in such a state ahead of his flight is not something he did for the hell of it so I am at a loss to understand precisely what sending him to prison is going to achieve - especially as the prisons are supposedly so full that dangerous criminals are persistently given derisory sentences and let out early.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 11:26
  #71 (permalink)  
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Lyle- respect man! You have conquered that demon, and nobody is under any misapprehension it has been, and still is, easy. You are a glowing example that restoration is possible and justified. I don't think we should take pilot-jealous, idiotic posts like niknak's seriously. A more fatuous, spiteful posting we haven't seen here for some time. Good luck in your lifelong rehabilitation- the trust and respect shown to you is justified!

I wonder whether we will ever have violent criminals and murderers punished in the same way niknak wants this pilot punished for life?
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 11:38
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Chuck and Lyle - well done mates, on all counts.

If he's technically competent, then shouldn't we revert to the rule which says that you're not allowed to fly if you're under the influence?

Some have alluded to the driving analogy. I don't know of too many places which ban alcoholics per se from driving, but pretty well all ban anyone from driving if they're under the influence.

If he's sober, and can control the aircraft, then what's the problem? If he falls off the wagon and turns up blotto, then just like anyone else, he can't fly that trip.

QED and consistent application of the rules.

Maybe this guy's mistake was just to not call in sick.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 12:14
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I have seen guys out there reeking of booze but totally upright and able to fly very well indeed; terminal alcoholics running on booze far better than trying to cope without! You really think someone like that would consider calling in sick... for what? He's coping just fine, thank you very much!

I once had this very man 'on the carpet.' Of course mine was a very small carpet (acting Deputy Chief Pilot), I was ex-military but a former enlisted man not once an Officer and a Gentleman and I was taken to be just over-reacting to such facts as that, yes, he kept a bottle in his room.

I was told that was only 'to entertain guests.' I had to point out that I sometimes entertained guests too but that didn't entail keeping a bottle in my room! Well, nothing worked until the hammer had to come down, when the guy ended up having to go all the way down, no job, no licence, before he could work his way back up to living without booze. That is often how it is.

When you look at it in the light of experiences like that one it's much better to treat drinking as a disease (whether you choose to believe that or not) like any other that is treatable and often controllable. Otherwise you have your closet drinker putting people at risk until he's caught. It is much safer to get the problem out in the open, I think.

Big airlines are not really all that charitable towards their employees, are they? I think they take the approach they do, treating alcoholism as a disease, for very sound safety reasons.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 12:27
  #74 (permalink)  
 
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Lyle
Check your PM's
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 12:33
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To "Another Number's" Post

First, no alcoholic is "reformed." They're recover(ed), or recovering, as I prefer.

"Reformed" might be appropriate for someone who's lived a life of crime, but alcoholics are not bad people who need to become good. They're sick and need to become well. And that's what recovery is about.

Yes, I WOULD give the keys to the Oval office to someone you refer to as "a reformed drunk." Why? Because I know what it takes to recover...and to live a life of recovery.

Not only that but when I need a doctor I go to one I know who's in recovery. I do the same if I need an attorney. And I feel much more comfortable in a business deal if I know that person is recovering. I'll discuss why shortly.

You are shot-through with tons of misinformation, as much of your phraseology certainly confirms.

Recovery from alcoholism is not the same as with other diseases. A cancer victim, for example, simply wants the cancer removed and a return to life as he or she once knew it. For an alcoholic, the alcohol is NOT the problem; it's the solution and merely a symptom of the real problem, which is the manner in which he or she responds to life itself. How we see things, how we react to things, what our belief system is, or has become, and how it plays into our reactions - THAT is the problem, buried deep within us and often covered by many false fronts and facades. The bottom line is that we cannot merely excise alcohol from our lives and achieve our goal. By so doing we only address a symptom and not the root cause. And most fail when they attempt to do it that way.

One of the prevailing attitudes of society, and certainly yourself, is that a recovering alcoholic will always be "less than," damaged goods, never as good as others or as he or she should have been.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I know millionaires, CEO's of a couple of Fortune 500 companies, priests, ministers, a world-famous heart surgeon (among tons of other doctors), prominent attorneys, judges, congressmen, sports superstars, and a whole plethora of others - all solidly recovering. I also know the homeless, the spurned, and the hopeless who are struggling.

Not long ago a man came up to me after I'd spoken somewhere. Years earlier he'd been living under a bridge, a hopeless drunk. He smiled as he shook my hand and told me he'd just finished his PhD. I get to witness these things all the time, everywhere I go.

An alcoholic who recovers must change his or her entire life; they must go above and beyond anything previous in order to stay sober and live happily. I am infinitely better at anything I do today, or have EVER done, due to my sobriety. Whether it's being a husband and father, flying an airplane, or just trying to be a better human being.

I watch recovering people die from horrific diseases and do so with a smile on their face and a whispered sense of gratitude for sobriety clear up to the end. I watch them deal with the loss of children and never turn back to the bottle. I watch them confront every imaginable calamity that life offers and find refuge in their recovery and their fellow recovering alcoholics who never leave their side. Recovering alcoholics are, in my view, the toughest, most tempered and resilient - and inspirational - people I know. I've been sober a long while, spoken all over the US and Canada (and once in Spain), and I know virtually thousands and thousands of recovering alcoholics. And what I've reported here is not unusual in the least.

So, yes, I would turn the keys over to anyone in ANY position of importance...if I knew they were recovering.

I hope you open and widen your horizons, learn more about all this, and become enlightened about this subject.

Blue skies,
Lyle

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

Who'd want them in really important roles.

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

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



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!?
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 13:22
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I am not right up to speed on this one, and I don't even like the guy, but isn't part of George W. Bush's personal narrative that he was a bit of a booze-hound before Jesus H. Christ got him straightened out? It is certainly so that he was once arrested for DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). I remember that because there was a fuss about Bush family influence having the charge dropped from the records or something.

Now I believe it is so that he doesn't drink at all but he sure does seem to feature in a lot of photos of him praying. Well, whatever works!

Depending on how you wish to look at that you could certainly argue that there is indeed a former alcoholic in the Oval Office. Any narrative like this one about a politician should be taken with a grain of salt, of course. From the Bush side it could be that religion solved a big problem. From the anti-Bush side it could be that there was made out to be a big problem when there really wasn't. The truth could lie somewhere in between these two. You really cannot judge such things.

A lot of us who are very 'down' on 'problem drinkers' might well have a problem ourselves that we just don't want to think about. I used to read those boring articles about how many 'units' of alcohol one was allowed per week and be amused to note that was a bit less than what I often got through in a night, when I was by no means the champion toper! At least I wasn't all tanked up at 1 a.m. before an early start but in strict terms I was a 'binge drinker' for sure. So? Most of us living the life in West Africa were; if you weren't you had trouble fitting in.

For other reasons I was told that I could have one glass of white wine per day but that more than that would not be a good idea. I just laughed in my doctor's face at that one. I told him straight up that 'one glass of white wine per day' was PATHETIC! 'Doctor,' I said, 'you call that drinking?! Pah! Drinking is three or four pints of beer, at a minimum! Your offer is unacceptable. I QUIT!' That beat looking like a poofter!
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 13:25
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Question LP

Mind if I PM you as a non flyer? Groundie in dispatch
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 14:09
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I think one of the earlier posts was by someone who claims to have known the pilot in question for some years. This post stated that the pilot is not an alcoholic.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation, what happened surely does not automatically make this man an "alcoholic".
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 14:28
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I am an extremely infrequent visitor to this forum, but when I read the news article involved I dropped in to hear the views of Ppruners in regard to pilots and alcohol, because anybody involved closely with the industry knows there is a very close connection between alcohol and aviation. Does anybody want to deny that?

I simply want to say that the first two posts by Lyle Prouse were among the finest posts I have read anywhere on Pprune, and they don't apply just to pilots. God speed, Lyle.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 14:34
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Originally Posted by Binoculars
anybody involved closely with the industry knows there is a very close connection between alcohol and aviation. Does anybody want to deny that?
if you are saying there is any more of a connection between alcohol and those working in aviation as opposed to banking, law, journalism etc etc
then yes, I'd deny it
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