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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Final Approach by Lyle Prouse (Author Guest Post / Book Review)

In association with Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Lyle Prouse, author of Final Approach!

Author Guest Post

From The Author's Mouth

I wrote Final Approach for my grandkids and family but had no intention of actually publishing it until a friend read it and strongly encouraged me to do that. The reaction has been surprising and I've been taken aback by it.

So much was said about this first-of-a-kind event in which three airline pilots were arrested for flying under the influence and most of it was inaccurate. Reporters and journalists, TV news anchors, and late night comics all had their say and put their own personal twists on things as I sat, watched, listened, and remained mute. I was amazed at reporters I didn't know who claimed to know what I was thinking as though they had access to my innermost thoughts and how the public seemed to accept, without question, the information they put out.

Clearly, the groundwork for sensationalism was part of the scenario with an impaired flight crew at 35,000 feet and passengers in the aircraft cabin. I understood and accepted that and I never attempted to excuse or minimize what had taken place - nor do I do that in my book. Throughout the entire manuscript I take very clear and naked responsibility for the event. Indeed, I've done that my entire life, including my Marine Corps career and my time in Vietnam. 

Nothing excuses or mitigates what happened, not even my alcoholism; and I've never hidden behind that.

This event destroyed and shredded me, reducing me to an emotional shell, and I found myself thinking thoughts I had never before believed possible - suicide. Hopelessness can never be reduced to a lower plateau than when suicide becomes seductively attractive and the desire to escape the pain and shame overwhelmingly outweighs the desire to live. 

From that near fatal outcome came a story of beauty and redemption and one that I claim no personal credit for. I suited up and showed up, but I can take no credit for anything other than that. 

As the story unfolded I experienced the absolute best of mankind ... and the worst of it. We need love the most when we deserve it the least and I've never forgotten that as I devote a lot of my time to helping those who are suffering as I once was. 

In front of me as I write this is a statement that says, "I believe life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it" and that has become one of my credos as a result of what happened to me. 

I need others in my life and that's a gift of humility, something I once viewed more as a character flaw than asset. I learned about humility through another form of the word - humiliation. 

What began as the most devastating experience in my life, and one that nearly ended my life, has evolved into the greatest positive thing that could ever have happened to me. In my Native culture we often speak of 'Grandfather' or 'Creator' and I use those terms as well as the God I knew growing up. Whatever He does and however He does it will never be something I can understand, but I do know that some power somewhere steered the outcome of this story and I had nothing to do with it. 

I went from pilot to pariah, yet in an astonishing turn of events I ended my career as a 747 captain for the same airline I'd so horribly shamed and embarrassed; and I never fought or resisted my termination. I went from prison to Presidential Pardon and even I, who was there every moment and lived every day of this, cannot possibly understand how it all occurred. 

Blue Skies,

Lyle Prouse

About The Author:

Lyle Prouse was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1938. He is part Comanche and grew up in an alcoholic home in a World War II housing project. He was active in his Native American community. After graduating from High School in Wichita, Lyle joined the Marines as a private but made the rare transition from enlisted to officer grade and ultimately Captain, a jet fighter pilot flying combat missions in Vietnam.

After his discharge from the Corps, Lyle became an airline captain for Northwest Airlines and flew for nearly 22 years before the same alcoholism that killed his parents almost destroyed his life. He was the first commercial pilot ever arrested and sent to prison for flying drunk.

The blistering media coverage was relentless as he was fired, stripped of all flying certificates, tried, convicted, and sent to Federal prison for sixteen months. The trial judge added sanctions on top of the conviction to guarantee he would never fly again. In spite of all the seemingly impossible obstacles, Lyle got sober, experienced many breathtaking miracles, returned to Northwest Airlines and retired as a 747 captain. In January of 2001 he received a full Presidential pardon from then President Bill Clinton.

Today, Lyle is a husband, father, and grandfather. He has been sober over twenty-one years and has devoted his life to helping others overcome alcoholism. He is still flying and has participated with all the major airlines in their ongoing alcohol programs. He remains active in Native American sobriety movements.

His latest book is Final Approach: Northwest Airline Flight 650 Tragedy and Triumph.

Lyle Prouse's Final Approach Virtual Book Tour Page On Pump Up Your Book!

Final Approach Book Trailer

Book Review

Final Approach by Lyle Prouse
Published By: CreateSpace
Release Date: November 29, 2011
Format: Paperback - 294 pages / Kindle - 661 KB
ISBN: 1460951999
Genre: Memoir / Nonfiction

BUY THE BOOK: Final Approach

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Pump Up Your Book! Virtual Book Publicity Tours.

Book Description:

This is the story of the first airline pilot ever arrested and sent to prison for flying under the influence. He was fired by his airline, stripped of his FAA licenses, tried, convicted, and sent to Federal prison. This was a first. It had never occurred before.

Lyle Prouse came from a WWII housing project in Kansas and an alcoholic family where both parents died as a result of alcoholism. He rose through the ranks of the United States Marine Corps from private to captain, from an infantryman to a fighter pilot. He made his way to the pinnacle of commercial aviation, airline captain…then lost it all.

Today he is a recovering alcoholic with nearly twenty-two years sobriety. This story describes his rise from the ashes of complete destruction from which he was never to fly again. It is full of miracles which defy all manner of odds.

In a long and arduous journey, he eventually regained his FAA licenses. He never fought his termination; he considered it fair and appropriate.

Miraculously, after nearly four years, the President/CEO of his airline personally reinstated him to full flight despite the adverse publicity and embarrassment.

In effect, the President/CEO gambled his own career by taking such a risk on a convicted felon and publicly acknowledged alcoholic pilot.

In another stunning event, the judge who tried, sentenced, and sent him to prison watched his journey and reappeared eight years after the trial. He became the driving force behind a Presidential pardon although he’d never supported a petition for pardon in all his years on the bench.

Lyle retired honorably as a 747 captain for the airline he’d so horribly embarrassed and disgraced. He lives with his wife of nearly forty-nine years and has five grandchildren.

He continues to work with all the major airlines in their alcohol programs. He is also active in his Native American community, and he provides hope to those struggling with the disease of alcoholism, no matter who they are or where they are.

Book Excerpt:

Dr. Uzee drew a map to Anchor Hospital. Barbara and I made our way back across Atlanta to the facility and it was dark as we made our final turn. The headlights hit a sign and I came to a stop with the lights directly on it. The sign is no longer there, but at the time it said: Anchor Hospital: A Hospital for Alcoholism and Other Chemical Dependencies.

As I sat with the sign in front of me, I felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach. I sat and looked at the sign and wondered how my life could have come to this. I was fifty-one years old and my life was to end in a treatment center for alcoholics. I had microseconds of recall, flashing back to the high points in my life, defining moments of pride and accomplishment that made me who I was and gave me an identity. I measured my success by them and each allowed me to slowly rise from the rubble and become someone. But in that moment it was as though a giant eraser swept everything away and it was all gone. In the seconds that followed I counted for nothing. I had no self-worth and no value as a human being.

Later, I would read a doctor’s report with the summarizing paragraph stating, “Given the history and background of this man, it was unlikely to believe he would ever be a productive member of society.” Yet I had come far and accomplished much – and now I had lost it all.

                                                   # # #

Retired United States District Chief Judge James M. Rosenbaum:

Even though nobody died, it remains one of the most remembered crimes in history. A jetliner full of passengers flying cross-country under the “control” of a drunken cockpit crew. Late night TV’s comics made the flight immortal. Who can forget Johnny Carson’s, asking: “What’ll you have?” Answer: “I’ll take whatever the crew is having.”

The flight is now history. But there remains the real and untold story. How did it happen? How did a pilot and crew, after running up a bar tab showing dozens of drinks, get behind the controls of a jet plane in the first place? And how could a person, after such a self-imposed and catastrophic fall, regain his life and his career?

Captain Lyle Prouse, for the first time tells his story. It is the ultimate story of a man coming to grips with the implacable “enemy” we all face . . . ourselves. It’s the battle that never ends. Prouse fearlessly presents a life, a cataclysm, and an ultimate redemption that must be read to be believed. And it’s true. After all, I was the judge.

                                                      # # #

Captain Terry Marsh, Fleet Captain, 747 Program at Northwest Airlines:

When the Flight 650 incident occurred, I’d known Lyle for more than twenty years and I was the Fleet Training Captain in charge of the Boeing 747 program at Northwest Airlines. I was shocked and embarrassed when the news broke – and even more shocked to learn that it was Lyle. We’d flown together and I considered him one of the most competent and conscientious pilots that I had ever known. Flight 650 became the 911 of commercial aviation, creating a tsunami within the industry.

Federal prosecution was also a first and when Lyle was found guilty and sent to prison there was little hope he would ever return to the profession that he loved. Most of us were sure we’d never see him in an airline uniform again but we all underestimated the incredible strength of this man. Upon his release from prison he began recertifying himself as a commercial pilot. Lyle had never flown civilian training airplanes before so the transition required even more effort. He accomplished that and with the help of the pilot community and Northwest management he returned again to his airline.

His high profile created extra attention as he made his way back. An FAA inspector watched as I gave him the final check ride of his career and he moved once again to the left seat as captain. It was one of the very best simulator check rides I’d ever seen.

Lyle continued to serve his airline and fellow pilots with distinction until his retirement. His story is the greatest positive series of events that I have experienced in my lifetime. It would not have been possible without the help of many friends, a fiercely loyal and understanding wife, along with an incredible amount of drive and perseverance he possesses.

My Book Review:

From out of the darkness and into the light ... this is one man's story of the challenges and battle he waged to right a horrible wrong, face the adversity with dignity and strength, and to seek the acceptance and redemption that comes when in recovery.

Final Approach is author Lyle Prouse's memoir, a true story of how he became the first airline pilot ever to be arrested and convicted for flying a commercial airplane while intoxicated. It is the story of how he was raised in an alcoholic family, and his life-long battle with alcoholism. It is the story of his fall from grace: from his service in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War to his position of Captain flying a Northwest Airlines Boeing 727. It is also his story of how he endured the guilt, humiliation and adversity from the tragic mistake that he made, the power of his strength and conviction while incarcerated in a federal prison; and ultimately the courage and redemption to help others in need, to reclaim his pilot certifications and to receive a Presidential Pardon for the crime. This is the powerfully compelling story of how one man overcame the odds to reclaim his life and bring to light the true story from the fateful flight that forever would change his life.

Captain Prouse humbly wrote his story in a straight forward and honest manner. In his inspiring memoir, he takes the reader along on a riveting retelling of his life history: the good, the bad and ultimately his well deserved redemption. This is a story that will have you feeling the full range of emotions: you will laugh, cry, be angered, feel compassion and applaud the ability that this special man had within himself to rise above the affliction of alcoholism and seek the light of recovery and redemption for past mistakes, to selflessly share this story with everyone.

Final Approach is an amazing memoir that is a must read, it is a story that will resonate with you long after the last words have been read. This inspirational story is thought provoking and provides hope for others that are afflicted by this horrible disease. This memoir will touch your heart, it will reveal the true ability of the human spirit, and it will provide humanity with education, understanding and compassion towards others.

Captain Prouse, I salute your perseverance, courage, and ability to triumph in your recovery. Your selfless dedication to help others is honorable, and as a daughter of a retired Marine who also battled alcoholism, I was taught to always recognize a Marine ... Semper Fi!



  1. Nice article, thanks for sharing.
    Anna @ rental mobil

  2. Wow thanks for the 5 star review, Kathleen!

    1. Thank you for the opportunity to read, review and host Lyle's virtual book tour event. :)