From Conviction to Conviction – An Eagle Reborn

This is the story of Captain Norman Lyle Prouse, who showed the moral courage on his conviction for “a common carrier under the influence of drugs or alcohol” to fight for his convictions in his personal battle against alcoholism and a lost job.

This story is narrated here not solely as a personal triumph of Lyle Prouse against alcohol dependence but as his being a beacon of inspiration to those who have the problem of alcoholism and those who misunderstand the disease – “alcohol dependence”. The story hereafter is his personal account, in his own words…

“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’d never had a private license – I came out of the Marine Corps as a Vietnam vet and quickly acquired a commercial ticket and instrument rating after a quickie test…and was hired 3 weeks later by NWA (Aug ’68). I had gone in as a barely 18 year old private and I left 11 1/2 years later as a Captain and jet pilot with an excellent reputation.

Not quite four years after my arrest and imprisonment, the President/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 thoughe he’d NEVER supported a petition for pardon in his 16 years on the bench. Two years later I received a Presidential Pardon – a HUGE, life altering event for a federal felon!”

For ease of reading, Lyle Prouse’ other posts are made available as:

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

 Further Reading


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.

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