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Pilot jailed (alcoholism & pilots)

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Pilot jailed (alcoholism & pilots)

Old 11th Dec 2006, 15:11
  #81 (permalink)  
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Capt. Lyle- my father, Gene G., was hired around the same time as you and spent 31 years at NWA. He told me many good things about you and was very happy when you got back on the line. He lives in BHM now.

I am humbled by your posts here. I lost a grandfather and almost lost my best friend to this disease. I pray you keep up your valuable work for many years to come!

Steve G.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 16:06
  #82 (permalink)  
 
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Lyle,

your posts (particularly, for me, the first two) have been outstanding.
Thank you for taking the time to write so eloquently about alchoholism and its effects on you, your family and your career.
All the very best for your retirement,

Flyingbug
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 16:54
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I'm with him!

Binoculars, that is, when he states that there's a close connection between alcohol and aviation.

It starts in the military, I think, which is where a lot of my generation got their start in aviation. You have a lot of young guys, bored out of their skulls most of the time and scared half to death a little bit of the rest, with money to burn, time on their hands and not a lot to do but drink (given that most young men choose not to curl up with a good book, nowadays).

A macho, heavy-drinking sort of culture naturally comes from that and follows one along through the rest of the aviation career. I don't think your average banker knows how to perform 'The Dance of the Flaming *rseholes' or how to drink an 'Afterburner' but plenty of pilots do!

Most of us tend to grow up and move away a little bit from the heavy drinking but more than a few do become alcoholics. I am not aware of any statistics for this, and I agree that plenty of businessmen also drink to excess, but my best guess is that aviation has more than its share of heavy drinkers. It is pretty rare to meet a tee-total pilot or engineer, certainly.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 17:10
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Lyle,
What an unbeleivable post. Thank you for having the courage to post what you did. I think it should be an eye-opener for everyone with the lock him up and throw away the keys attitude.
Pilots or not - how many of you have woken up the morning after feeling a bit green around the gills and thought - should I drive to work today?...
It's easy to point fingers guys but there for the grace of god........
Take it easy out there fellas and keep the blue side up.
Jumbo
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 17:45
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Alcoholism does not affect everyone in the same way.

During my treatment at Shick Shadel Hospital we were told that about 10% of the population carry a gene that makes them more suseptable to becoming an alcoholic than others.

During their research into the why of alcholism they did many tests, one of which was using a breed of monkey that would not drink alcohol. However once injected with the spinal fluid of an alcoholic 100% of these monkeys drank themselves to death.

Further experimentation with these monkeys determined that regardless of the fact that an alcoholic had been dry for decades injecting the monkeys with the spinal fluid from a non drinking alcholic produced the same result, the monkeys drank themselves to death.

I am part native American Indian and we carry this gene that makes us far more prone to alcholism than say someone from Europe who have had alcohol as part of their life style for centuries.

So based on the findings of Shick Shadel and my reaction to the drug that was administered to me at the hospital I belive their findings to be true.

My reaction to the drug was dramatic and almost killed me, they changed the amount once they found out that I am part North American Indian.

Alcoholism is far from a benign affliction and we may be well advised not to be to judgemental of someone who has this disease.

Chuck E.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 19:47
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Lyle.

PM for you Sir.
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 21:38
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Manfred
”if (Binoculars is) 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”
Based entirely on unscientific observation, I agree with Manfred. I have many friends who are professional pilots and lawyers, quite a few who are bankers, and others in a wide variety of professions and jobs; I’ve never seen any sign that pilots drink more often or more heavily than those in other professions.
A study of alcoholism in the professions in the mid 80s found that it was the serious illness most likely to affect professionals in their first 15 years after qualifying. I don't know, but I doubt if that’s changed.

Chuks says that a ‘macho, heavy-drinking’ culture comes from the military. I don’t doubt he’s right but, in Britain, that culture is widespread, especially amongst young people and regardless of socio-economic background. There is a widespread British culture of people going out for the evening with the intention of drinking to excess – and measuring the success of the night before by how badly they feel the next day. They then boast about how much they drank/how drunk they were, saying they had a ‘fantastic night’ and were ‘slaughtered’ etc.
Quite a few British Ppruners list drinking (described in various forms) under ‘Interests’ in their Profile. And that’s by no means limited to those who are (or claim to be) professional pilots.

Binge drinking appears to be an integral part of the social life of many British youngsters, not just young males. UK women under 25 drink 2-3 times as much as young women in France and Italy. Teenage bingers are also more likely to take the habit into their 20s. Thankfully, as Chucks says, most people tend to grow up, but some don’t and, sadly, more than a few of those become alcoholics.


Generalisations are always risky, but my impression is that generalisations by country reveal more than generalisations by profession or job.



FL
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 22:47
  #88 (permalink)  
 
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Capt. Prouse:

You are indeed an inspiration. I only wish that every professional pilot could have the opportunity to hear your words, whether they're drinkers or not.

I recently had the privelege of attending a course here in Canada where we learned the values and benefits of a Pilot Assistance Program. I admit that prior to attending the course, I looked at addiction as more of a character flaw than as a disease that affects the very core of the human brain. At the end of the course, my feelings on the matter were irreversibly changed for the better. I attribute much of that change to the pilots in the course who shared their stories of addiction. Their first-hand accounts of hitting bottom; being confronted with an intervention and eventually getting the help they needed to get better, affected me deeply. Short of witnessing the birth of my children, hearing their personal stories was probably the most profound experience of my life. All of those pilots raised your name as an example of someone they look up to. Having read your responses here, I can certainly see why.

Any manager who would elect to dismiss an employee who may be an alcoholic is treading on very thin ice, particularly if they're doing business in a place that has laws that ban discrimination against people with a medical condition. Yes, a pilot who arrives at work under the influence must be removed from duty pending a medical evaluation. It would be foolhardy to do anything less. If the medical evaluation concludes that they are suffering from an addiction, then their medical must be held in suspension until they can prove that they are medically fit to return to duty. Transport Canada has endorsed the concept of Pilot Assistance and the process that pilots must go through to get their medical back. As you said, the success rate of programs such as this is quite remarkable. Although I know you would humbly deny it, I believe that you are owed some credit for that.

I will close by saying that we all must understand that a pilot who is labeled as an alcoholic will suffer from a great deal of shame and guilt for having been found out. Pilots pride themselves on being seen as calm and rational individuals who are capable of handling a great deal of stress. The need to medicate (i.e. drink or take drugs) to feel better is tough for them to admit to themselves, never mind to their loved ones and colleagues. They must be shown that they are not alone, and that there are many colleagues out there who, like yourself, have lived life "on the edge" and with time and some help, have learned how to live "in the middle" again.

Many thanks to you and all those who give so much of their time to help others.

Jeff
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 23:16
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Mods - would I be out of place suggesting this be considered for sticky status. Change the title to alcoholism or something equally appropriate. Lyle is such a powerful writer and has such a real story to tell. I must admit to a measure of vision impairment reading his story.
Blue Skies,
Brian
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Old 11th Dec 2006, 23:54
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About Mr. Lyle Prouse's amazing story - notice that as soon as he started treating HIMSELF with the respect that he deserved, that other people followed suit and did the same. And when he treated himself badly, the system and other people did likewise.

As soon as he took responsibility and accepted the prison term others saw this strength and rallied around him. He did not lose faith in himself. People don't like a lost cause, however they will rally around a good cause/person no matter how weak it is at the time. That old paradox, we often must become weak and helpless in order to become strong, to lose everything for a chance to start again. The house is often so rotten that is must be stripped down to its foundation, and rebuilt again.
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 01:00
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Dear Lyle,

I was aware when posting the comment, that it may not been seen for what it was ... tongue-in-cheek ironic.

Perhaps not the best idea in an international forum, and on such a subject.

My intention was actually counter to what might be initially read into such a post... as is the case with irony.

My intention was actually to respond to those so quick to write off anyone who's experienced the results of alcoholism, by pointing out that society has allowed someone with such experience to obtain the "top job".

Maybe I should have been more obvious, but that's not in my character!

My own position is far from that which may have been assumed ...



Originally Posted by LProuse
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
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 02:09
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Thanks

I was going to skip the thread as it was full of "holier than thou" attitudes about this issue, but I am really glad I didn't. Thanks Lyle, Chuck and others who have reminded me that running through life with our eyes wide shut serves no great purpose. Thanks for helping me to remember what real human nature is about. I can't think of anything else to say except...Thanks

Best wishes to you all this holiday season, and safe skies in the future.
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 05:04
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Dear Lyle,

I am at a loss of words to descibe how i felt after reading your post. But to sum it all up, your post has been the most humane, most compelling and most touching post i have ever read all thorughout this forum.

What i would like to say here, is that no matter what our circumstances in life are, still i think that everybody deserves a second chance. Life on this earth is always a constant struggle, so for those who are in the right path, well and good, but to those who have stumbled, get up, fight and live on.

Happy retirement, Capt Lyle, and may you live long and continue to inspire more people.

Wishing you bright and blue skies ahead. Merry Christmas!

Expat
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 10:40
  #94 (permalink)  

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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
And you would have every right to, Baron! It was a poorly worded generalisation, as befits the 1.28am time of posting. I suppose the crucial point from your post is "any more of a connection". No, I don't think there is any more, perhaps my point should be that I don't think there is any less.

It's also possible that my geographical location has influenced my views. I could, but won't, make a very impressive list of incidents I have myself witnessed in my thirty two years involvement in the game as it is played where legends were made, and almost all of them involved alcohol at some stage. I suspect those who have flown in Papua New Guinea could tell you three times as many similar stories. Anyone can be as sanctimonious as you like, and perhaps pilots from other countries are miraculously free of this trait; I can only call it as I see it. And let me hasten to add that I am including controllers equally in my generalisation.

The important points remain those pointed out by Mr Prouse. No man is an island, and few are those who can throw stones within their glass houses. Personal insults mean nothing to me, so save your breath.

Edited to add that last comment was not aimed at anybody who has posted in this forum, rather a couple of trolls in JetBlast.
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 13:37
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Lyle,pretty much the most articulate,moving and coherent post I've ever read on pprune.Well done to you sir for striking the balance between admitting culpability and finding the strength to move forward.Also,well done to those who stuck by you-compassion can go a long way.Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 19:59
  #96 (permalink)  
 
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Lyle
please check PMs
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 22:02
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Originally Posted by LProuse
Dear Doors,

None of us would ever recover if we didn't have consequences to face....... Blue skies,
Lyle Prouse
Lyle,

This is true, and believe me I am no wooly liberal, however a situation where you not only lose your job, but also your house and then to know that you will never fly again, is one hell of a consequence.

Reading your posts, it is very clear what sort of a person you are. Reading some of the other posts it seems clear that the pilot in question is an equally sincere person. What you both had in common was an illness, not any criminal intent.

Now compare that with the sorts of feral gutter-trash which New Labour have encouraged to infest our cities. These gangs beat people up for a laugh, police do nothing and god help anyone who gets in a ruck with them - it is likely the police will prosecute the victims - as they are firmly on the side of the scum.

Just last week one such vile gang were finally hauled up before the courts, having murdered a family man and deprived his son of a father for life. The harshest sentence was 15 months (yes months!!!!!)

Now tell me this country has its priorities right!!?

Rgds, Doors.
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 23:36
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I apologize, Another Number

The tongue in cheek entirely went past me, and I apologize to you.

The comments, and reference to "reformed drunks," was very much what I've encountered from many in the public sector for years now. So...I reacted.

Please accept my apology.

Blue skies,
Lyle Prouse


Originally Posted by Another Number
Dear Lyle,

I was aware when posting the comment, that it may not been seen for what it was ... tongue-in-cheek ironic.

Perhaps not the best idea in an international forum, and on such a subject.

My intention was actually counter to what might be initially read into such a post... as is the case with irony.

My intention was actually to respond to those so quick to write off anyone who's experienced the results of alcoholism, by pointing out that society has allowed someone with such experience to obtain the "top job".

Maybe I should have been more obvious, but that's not in my character!

My own position is far from that which may have been assumed ...
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Old 12th Dec 2006, 23:57
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One comment

Thank you for your kindness, Jeff,

I have but one brief comment her and it only applies to one small portion of your comments. I only want to clarify a common misunderstanding about employers and the American Disabilities Act.

There is a common and sometimes encouraged misconception that the American Disabilities Act (ADA) allows alcoholics and addicts to retain their jobs due to their "medical condtion." That is FALSE.

I've been in a number of workshops dealing with ADA and it does NOT protect alchoholics and addicts from being terminated for their behavior. Nor should it.

It's designed to keep employers from discriminating against people like me who are recovering from alcoholism. They (theoretically, anyway) cannot pull up my hospitalization records for treatment years ago and then deny me a job based on that. But they are under NO obligation to hire me (or rehire me) if I'm untreated, still drinking (or drugging), and engaging in egregious behavior.

I was fired for flying drunk; not for being an alcoholic. I committed an act that was both egregious and unlawful, and the ADA law, very properly, did not apply to my situation.

I don't know what the Canadian version of the ADA is (if you have one), but ours gets a lot of misinformation put out about it.

I applaud you for your openmindedness and willingness to learn about alcoholism/addiction. It's a difficult task for non-recovering folks.

Again, thank you for your very nice words.

Blue skies,
Lyle


Originally Posted by J.O.
Capt. Prouse:

You are indeed an inspiration. I only wish that every professional pilot could have the opportunity to hear your words, whether they're drinkers or not.

I recently had the privelege of attending a course here in Canada where we learned the values and benefits of a Pilot Assistance Program. I admit that prior to attending the course, I looked at addiction as more of a character flaw than as a disease that affects the very core of the human brain. At the end of the course, my feelings on the matter were irreversibly changed for the better. I attribute much of that change to the pilots in the course who shared their stories of addiction. Their first-hand accounts of hitting bottom; being confronted with an intervention and eventually getting the help they needed to get better, affected me deeply. Short of witnessing the birth of my children, hearing their personal stories was probably the most profound experience of my life. All of those pilots raised your name as an example of someone they look up to. Having read your responses here, I can certainly see why.

Any manager who would elect to dismiss an employee who may be an alcoholic is treading on very thin ice, particularly if they're doing business in a place that has laws that ban discrimination against people with a medical condition. Yes, a pilot who arrives at work under the influence must be removed from duty pending a medical evaluation. It would be foolhardy to do anything less. If the medical evaluation concludes that they are suffering from an addiction, then their medical must be held in suspension until they can prove that they are medically fit to return to duty. Transport Canada has endorsed the concept of Pilot Assistance and the process that pilots must go through to get their medical back. As you said, the success rate of programs such as this is quite remarkable. Although I know you would humbly deny it, I believe that you are owed some credit for that.

I will close by saying that we all must understand that a pilot who is labeled as an alcoholic will suffer from a great deal of shame and guilt for having been found out. Pilots pride themselves on being seen as calm and rational individuals who are capable of handling a great deal of stress. The need to medicate (i.e. drink or take drugs) to feel better is tough for them to admit to themselves, never mind to their loved ones and colleagues. They must be shown that they are not alone, and that there are many colleagues out there who, like yourself, have lived life "on the edge" and with time and some help, have learned how to live "in the middle" again.

Many thanks to you and all those who give so much of their time to help others.

Jeff
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Old 13th Dec 2006, 00:44
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Leaving the forum

Folks,

This will be my final post. I've said what I needed to say and it's time to go.

To all of you who have been so very kind with your words and comments, I say "thank you." They are deeply appreciated and, frankly, they were unexpected.

I hope some may have gained a little understanding about a most difficult and complex disease - alcoholism. Sometimes called "the disease of a thousand faces."

I considered a brief explanation of the disease itself, the three axes it affects (I think that's the plural of axis, isn't it?), and some of the science behind all this. The problem is that there isn't any way to do it "briefly," so I'll leave it where it is.

The only one who really has to really understand it is me, since I'm an alcoholic and will either live WITH this disease...or die FROM it.

In the final analysis, giving up alcohol (and any other mood altering substance) becomes a small price to pay for the life I live today. I'm asked to do one small thing...refrain from ingesting something that's become toxic to me. Other than that I can go anywhere and do anything on the face of the planet that others can do. I can climb mountains, fly airplanes, drive race cars, hunt and fish with my son, watch sunrises and sunsets - and laugh and hug my wife and my grandkids.

In the telling of my story, I neglected to mention that the beautiful 20 year old girl who pinned my gold wings and USMC second lieutnant bars on me is still with me. When the devastation blew our lives apart she never flinched...she just continued to believe in me.

I entered treatment the day after my arrest...on my 27th wedding anniversary. The 20 yr old girl is now 63 and more beautiful than ever - and she is truly...the wind beneath my wings. She was there to pin the wings on her cadet in 1963...she was there when I lost them in the midst of disgrace and dishonor... and she was there to pin them back on for the final time.

I am blessed to have lived such a wonderful life and to have had such a great journey. I have received the most of something I know the least about - grace.

Blue skies, all, and goodbye...

Lyle Prouse
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