“Judge not, that ye be not judged (Matthew 7:1)”

This is the sixth part by Lyle Prouse

…I just came across yours (post) in which you say I “hung the other pilots out to dry,” and “was responsible for their welfare,” ad nauseum.

Arrogance and grandiosity often get in the way of fact checking before spouting off, and you provide a great example of that.

You seem to imply that I somehow kept information from the other two crew members about the FAA inspector, along with some other assumptions that are so confusing I can’t fully understand them. And all your opinions, which you seem to convert to fact, are erroneous.

First, let’s talk about responsibility. It seems fashionable in our current social system to always look to others for blame, deciding that our troubles are the result of he, she, them, they, or it. One of the first tenets of recovery from alcoholism is acceptance of personal responsibility and being accountable, understanding that our problems are of our own making – and not someone else’s. And that applies to everyone, not merely alcoholics. We’re a nation of victims, always blaming others and remaining victims because we refuse to take responsibility. It’s just plain easier to blame someone else than to look in the mirror, where the problem really is.

Using your “blame system,” I suppose I should blame the events that transpired on the First Officer. I was peacefully sleeping in my room when he called and suggested that we go to the Speak Easy for some drinks and hors d’oeuvres…so it must have been HIS fault. Never mind that I made a decision that I was responsible for – to go.

Furthermore, using your blame system, it must have been the Second Officer’s fault we got into trouble because he mouthed off to some patrons and drew attention to us…never mind that I made a decision to sit there, drink, and be part of the whole thing. I had the First Officer assist the S/O out of the bar and attempted to repair the damage. As the evening progressed I added to the difficulty as well – and I accept that.

I have no one to “blame” but myself. I am responsible for my decisions, and no one else. Nor am I responsible for your decisions, the First Officer’s decisions, or the Second Officer’s. They didn’t put a gun to my head, force me to go, and threaten to shoot me if I didn’t drink; nor did anyone do that to them.

Prior to this incident, NO pilot had ever been arrested and publicly foisted into the media limelight around the world…and there had certainly been many, many situations of pilots drinking too much and flying the next day. It had gone on for years…and all of us know that.

The three of us were involved in a common tragedy. We went off the edge of a cliff together…but from THAT moment on we were on our own. We fell separately, landed separately, and had to pick ourselves up separately. They had choices to make and I had choices to make. I made mine, put one foot in front of the other, lived one day at a time, and as the years passed I watched miracles occur. None came quickly and none came easily.

They were on their own path, following their own journey, and were in charge of their decisions; and they did the best they could just as I did.

There is a helluva lot that you don’t know. One such thing is that I made a deeply heartfelt and impassioned attempt to get the First Officer back to Northwest. He was the least culpable among us and was – and is – a class act and a gentleman. There were reasons that he wasn’t able to return and I wasn’t responsible for any of them. The Second Officer lied to the MEC chairman when he attempted to return to NWA and ALPA dropped their support. And I’m not responsible for the S/O’s actions, either.

I would suggest that you consider, just a teensy bit, that you don’t have all the facts, weren’t there, and don’t know what is or what isn’t. It would behoove you to remember the old saying: “A closed mouth gathers no feet.”

Read the final part: “Alcoholism, the Scourge; An Alcoholic – Bearer of the Cross”  

You can read the complete account of Lyle Prouse’ autobiographical account of his tryst with law and his redemption against alcoholism in his book, “Final Approach“,  by ordering the book online at http://lyleprouse.com/   


Permission of Captain Lyle Prouse to use his posts on an aviation forum for the purpose of this blog is gratefully acknowledged.

Grateful thanks to Brian Abraham for introducing me to the story of Lyle Prouse, and to Rob, Forum Administrator, for consenting to use the material on their forum for the larger public good for information and knowledge dissemination.