Flying Drunk: The True Story of a Northwest Airlines Flight, Three Drunk Pilots and One Man's Fight for Redemption

Overview

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.

July 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 ...

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Flying Drunk: The True Story of a Northwest Airlines Flight, Three Drunk Pilots, and One Man's Fight for Redemption

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Overview

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.

July 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.

For as long as he could remember, Joe Balzer dreamed of flying. He pursued his goal with a vigorous passion and earned his pilot licenses, piling up hundreds of hours of flight time with a wide variety of planes and jets with one overarching goal: to one day fly for a major airline. After a frustrating and ultimately failed attempt to fly for Delta, his long-held dream came true when he landed a job in 1985 as a Second Officer flying a Boeing 727 with Eastern Airlines. As far as Joe was concerned, it was the break of a lifetime—a dream job with a great company with a marvelous route structure and distinguishing flying history.

But Joe had a problem. And he refused to admit it to himself or to others. Joe Balzer was an alcoholic.

Joe’s alcoholism caught up with him in March 1990, when he was arrested with two other pilots for flying a commercial airliner while under the influence of alcohol. His world began crumbling down around him. His alcoholism cost him his promising career and his dignity, drained his life savings, and severely tested the strength, love, and endurance of his new marriage. Every major media outlet, including The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time Magazine covered the shocking story for the stunned American flying public. Refusing to take a plea bargain, Joe and his fellow pilots went to trial and were found guilty. All three were sent to federal prison. Instead of a minimum security facility, however, Joe ended up at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, long recognized as one of the country’s most notorious prisons. Flying Drunk is Joe’s bittersweet and thoroughly chilling memoir of his twisted journey to a Federal courtroom, his time behind bars, 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.

Now in paperback, Flying Drunk is an incredible journey of the human spirit, from childhood to hell, and back again.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611211641
  • Publisher: Savas Beatie
  • Publication date: 9/19/2013
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 983,283
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph 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.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 21, 2010

    If you think the consequences of a DUI are bad, you should read this book.

    There was a three man crew on that flight back in 1990; a Captain, a First Officer, and a Flight Engineer, sometimes called a Second Officer. I have heard the CD that was made at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting by the Captain, and now have read this book written by the Flight Engineer; I have found nothing in audio or in print by the First Officer. What I have found between the Captain's CD, and the Flight Engineer's book was a lot of finger pointing, "It's the Captain's fault" and "It's the Flight Engineer's fault" so in that respect between the two different accounts of the events, it's a matter of who you choose to believe as to who's fault it is. What they both agree on is that it was the worst times of their lives; lives that were changed forever once they got off the airplane in Minneapolis and were met by the Federal Aviation Administration and law enforcement.

    As an airline pilot myself, I read with interest the Flight Engineer's side of the story, just as I had listened with interest to the Captain's side of the story. Who was right; who was wrong; who was to blame? That is something the reader needs to decide, once they read the book. Would I recommend this book? Yes, I would, to both pilots and non-pilots alike. On March 8th, 1990, those three men put the lives of 91 passengers in danger, and the passengers never had any idea of what could have happened.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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