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Flying Drunk: A Northwest Airlines Flight, Three Drunk Pilots, and One Man's Fight for Redemption (英語) ハードカバー – 2009/7/28
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March 8, 1990: An intoxicated three-man crew, including Flight Engineer Joseph Balzer, fly a Northwest Airlines Boeing 727 with 91 passengers aboard from Fargo, North Dakota to Minneapolis, Minnesota.Northwest Airlines, alcoholismJuly 25, 1990: All three pilots stand trial for flying a commercial airliner while under the influence of alcohol; all three are convicted and sent to federal prison.July 26, 1990 present: Joe Balzer fights for redemption and to regain all that he has lost. Flying Drunk is his story.Since he was a young boy, Joe Balzer dreamed of flying. He pursued his goal with a vigorous passion and earned his pilot licenses, piling up hours of flight time with a wide variety of planes and jets with one overarching goal: to one day fly for a major airline. But Joe had a problem. He was an alcoholic and refused to admit to himself that he had a problem.His alcoholism caught up with him in March 1990, when Joe was arrested with two other pilots for flying a commercial airliner while under the influence of alcohol. His world began crumbling around him and his new marriage faced the ultimate test. He lost his promising career and his dignity. Every major media outlet, including The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time Magazine covered the shocking story for the stunned American flying public. The trial that followed drained Joe s life s savings and federal prison nearly broke him. Flying Drunk is Joe s bittersweet and thoroughly chilling memoir of his twisted journey to a Federal courtroom, his time in the notorious Federal penitentiary system in Atlanta, and his struggle to recapture all that he held dear.Today, Joe is a recovering alcoholic, celebrating more than nineteen years of sobriety. The long road back from perdition led him to American Airlines, where good people and a great organization recognized a talented pilot who had cleaned up his act and was ready to fly again, safely.Flying Drunk is an incredible journey of the human spirit, from childhood to hell, and back again. Everyone should read and heed its message of hope and redemption. No one who does will ever forget it.About the Author: Joe Balzer is a pilot for American Airlines with more than 15,000 hours of flight experience. He has a Master s Degree in Aerospace Education and is also an inspirational speaker, traveling around the country speaking to pilots and other groups on the dangers of alcohol and other addictions, bringing his audience to laughter and tears with his powerful message of hope. Joe lives in Tennessee with his wife Deborah and their two children. Flying Drunk is his first book.REVIEWS "Balzer was part of the infamous three-man crew that in 1990 piloted a Northwest Airlines commercial flight from Fargo, ND, to Minneapolis while intoxicated. All three lost their jobs and flying licenses and served time in federal prison. Driven by his faith in God and the support of his family and friends, Balzer struggled to overcome his addiction. Today, sober for nearly two decades, he flies for American Airlines. Listeners will be captivated by his tale of redemption, which he engagingly reads. Recommended for those dealing with their own or a loved one's addiction issues."Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Lib., Parkersburg"
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After this book came out, fifty-four pilots from Northwest and thirteen flight attendants all wrote letters of outrage, which were sent to the publisher. An incredibly strong letter from the former Pres/CEO of Northwest Airlines was also sent and that letter alone would be enough to debunk this book.
I offered to pay for polygraph exams for the author and myself AND travel to the author's home town for that purpose. Needless to say, nothing occurred.
This book parallels the James Frey book that made Oprah's book club and was later discovered to be a hoax. It's sad because anyone's story of recovery from alcoholism should be good enough to stand on its own without fiction and embellishment.
Listening to Joe's account of that tragic moment in the lives of three pilots and Joe's struggle to regain his life was at times painful and often moving. His experience in the criminal justice system was particularly wrenching, as was his up-again-down-again effort to remake his flying career.
Although Balzer's writing and narration are clearly heart-felt and very compelling, there was one thing that really troubled me about the book: his bitterness toward the airline and the other two members of the flight deck on that fateful day. When he hears that the captain regained his license and eventually his job (the captain in question eventually retired from the airline as a 747 captain), he is clearly angry. Does he have any idea what that captain went through in order to accomplish that...what HIS life changes might have been like?
The fact that Balzer can say almost nothing good about the captain, save one feeble effort near the end, and the fact that the first officer has never contacted him since the trial, makes me wonder if Joe isn't quite the kind of person we would want him to be as we hear his story.
In the end, I congratulate him for his courage and persistence, but I'm left with some lingering questions about the true dynamics of that flight crew...especially what Joe's role in it might really have been.
As a professional airline pilot and captain with a major airline, I have some concerns about the mindset of the author. One of the core values of those of us who are in command is that we accept the fact that we are capable of making errors in judgement. We accept responsibility for them when they occur, look for ways to prevent them, and never, ever try to lay the blame for them on someone else. The author lays most of the blame for his situation on his captain, instead of accepting responsibility for his actions as an adult who knew the rules and freely chose to ignore them. Not the "right stuff" that I'd be looking for in a professional aviator.
Redemption for alcoholics comes from accepting one's condition and admitting that the road to recovery can't be travelled alone. It only comes when one acknowledges and takes full responsibility for the harm they have caused. The author scratches the surface but leaves far too much behind. He is unconvincing to the point of lacking credibility.