Final Approach - Northwest Airlines Flight 650, Tragedy and Triumph

Final Approach - Northwest Airlines Flight 650, Tragedy and Triumph

by Lyle Prouse


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Final Approach - Northwest Airlines Flight 650, Tragedy and Triumph by Lyle Prouse

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 status in spite of all 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781460951996
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 11/29/2011
Pages: 298
Sales rank: 509,461
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.67(d)

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Final Approach - Northwest Airlines Flight 650, Tragedy and Triumph 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ThatsAllSheWrote More than 1 year ago
Out of the 17.6 million adult alcoholics (or 8.5% of adult Americans), Lyle Prouse is – statistically –  just one of them.  What singles Prouse out from the millions of others is that he - along with two others - was catapulted into instant infamy on the world stage as the captain of the first commercial aviation cockpit crew arrested, tried and convicted for flying legally intoxicated.  On March 08, 1990, when the Northwest Airlines Boeing 727, Flight 650 from Fargo, North Dakota, pulled into the gate in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota, Captain Prouse’s life as he had known it, was over.   As shame, fear and dread consumed him, what tormented him to the brink of despair was facing the fact that he had risked the lives of fifty-eight passengers and five other crew members by making the choice to fly impaired. Final Approach is written with penetrating insight and unswerving integrity  coupled with careful attention to detail.  It will keep you engaged from the first page to the last.  My heart broke for Prouse as his personal story unfolded.  (Did he ever stand a chance?  Wasn’t his fate sealed?)  Of Comanche Indian heritage and raised in a World War Two housing project in Kansas, his childhood was marred as the same insidious slide into alcoholism that eventually claimed the lives of both his parents, in due course nearly destroyed his own, not to mention the lives of those around him.  Yet, he steadfastly refuses to blame his parents for his own choices later in life.  In fact, he does not make any excuses.  Period.  There are many outstanding moments in this book – too many to mention - that keep you turning  the page.  Along the way we see an insatiable, ruthless, predatory media that delighted in making a public spectacle and laughing stock out of him, countered by his own amazing lawyer, his compassionate doctors and rehab facility, and the terrifying no-holds barred reality of prison life.   We also see a corporate CEO put his career on the line to give him another chance; the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) reach out, and the compassion of co-workers and lifelong friends who rally around.  But most of all we see a devoted wife who loves her husband completely and unconditionally, who wisely supports him without blame in his darkest hours.  It is difficult not to cheer him on as his despair, humiliation, and deep personal shame slowly turns into humility, a willingness to change and eventually, complete surrender to the recovery program.   On March 09, 1990, Lyle and Barbara Prouse celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary.   Instead of a night out on the town they sat closely together in their car as it winded down the hill to the treatment center that would be his “home” for quite a long while, a prelude to prison. “Helluva way to spend an anniversary, huh?” said he.    She responded quietly, “It might be the best one we’ve ever had.”    As the toxic weeds of his life are pulled and discarded, miracles begin to sprout and bloom.  Final Approach is a wonderful mix of a well-told personal story and a source book for the process of recovery.  I highly recommend it. M. M. Harris, Author/Writer Donkey Galloping Out of Hell – The Jack Hildebrandt Story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I knew Lyle, having worked with him in the past and knew the high points of his battle. I did not realize the depths of dispair that he had to go through to get his life back on track. Also I find his thoughts on our penal system very enlightening but quite discouraging.