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Most of you probably remember when this happened. Here is the follow up. How foolish.
Pilots Guilty of Being Drunk in Cockpit By CURT ANDERSON, Associated Press Writer 36 minutes ago
MIAMI - Two former America West pilots were convicted Wednesday of being drunk in the cockpit the morning after an all-night drinking binge at a sports bar.
The pilots face a minimum of probation and a maximum of five years in prison after being found guilty of operating an aircraft while drunk.
Defendants Thomas Cloyd and Christopher Hughes both bowed their heads when the verdict was read after a two-week trial and jury deliberations over parts of two days. Each man hugged weeping loved ones before being handcuffed and taken to jail.
Cloyd, 47, and Hughes, 44, were arrested July 1, 2002, as their Phoenix-bound jet was being pushed back from its gate at Miami International Airport.
Police ordered the plane to turn back and arrested the pilots after security screeners smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Hughes, and Cloyd got in an argument over his attempts to bring aboard a cup of coffee.
The pilots had 14 beers between them the night before the flight, closing out their $122 bar tab at about 4:40 a.m. - roughly six hours before their flight was to depart. Hours later, they registered blood-alcohol levels above Florida's 0.08 legal limit.
The pilots maintained they were not operating the aircraft because the Airbus 319 was being pushed by a runway tug and its steering was disengaged at the time it was ordered back to the terminal. They were fired by America West after their arrests and lost their commercial pilot's licenses.
"All I can say is that we are very disappointed," said attorney James Rubin, who represents Hughes and declined comment on whether the pair would appeal.
Assistant State Attorney Deisy Rodriguez had called the defendants "stumbling, fumbling" drunks who put 117 passengers and crew in grave danger.
"We have protected some lives today," Rodriguez said after the verdict.
She cited testimony that both pilots performed flight checks for 30 minutes before the jet left the gate. When questioned by police on the day of their arrest, she said both pilots answered "yes" when asked if they had been operating an aircraft.
Judge David Young ordered both men held without bail and set sentencing for July 20.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
I was just about to post something on this too! GMTA!
It's a shame that these two decided to literally throw away their careers so stupidly.
I can't believe they even thought for a moment they would get away with it. If they had been smart, they both would have called in sick saying they got food poisoning or something, and sleeping it off.
To have done what they did is unforgivable, and I hope they give them both the maximum allowable punishment. Is that harsh? I think not, especially given the gravity of the situation, and the number of lives in the air and on the ground that would have been placed in harms way.
At the very minimum, this demonstrated very poor judgement skills on their part. Surprising indeed from two pilots with their ATP ratings!
As I read the article a little closer, I am puzzled. 14 beers and a 122 dollar bar tab. That works out to 8.72 per beer. Where the hell were they drinking. That and the alcohol level 6 hours or more later leads me to believe that those beers were accompanied by shots or something. Seems strange though, because those numbers must be taken from the court record.
In any event it is pretty foolish. It sounds like they were still just intoxicated enough to think they could bluff their way through.
I'm not sure where they were at that would charge that amount for those drinks, but who knows.
They recently did a story in the news here about just how long does it really take to sober up. They had four people go through BAC testing before, then during, and after drinking, making sure each individual was truly drunk. They then tested them the next morning. After 8+ hours of sleep, there was not only measurable BAC in all of them, but two of them were still legally drunk and then-some! They monitored them up to 18 hours later, and found that it took a couple of them at least 12 to 14 hours to A) get below the legal limit of intoxication, and B) to be able to function at a level commensurate with pre-intoxication levels. Everyone is different, of course, but it shows that what is thought to be sufficient time to recover is not always the case.
In the worst of the cases, one of the subjects got to twice the legal limit at his peak. Then, at 14 hours, was still showing high BAC that would have had him tossed in the drunk tank if he had gone out and drove.
I'll have to see if the link for the television report is still around and I'll post it here. It was downright scary!
Glad to see the court and jury took the issue so seriously. It's too bad these two pilots didn't take their responsibilities equally so!
I sure can't add anything to what has already been said here other than the fact that at AWA there are two rules they busted. One the 12 hour rule and two the .02% BAC rule. These guys took a chance and they got busted now they need to suck it up and take their punishment like men.
I was always taught that 8 hours is the rule and that no matter how much you drink you'll be sober in 8 hours.
That was until I attended a seminar by one of our flight surgeons several years ago. It is safe to assume that for each ounce of alcohol you drink it takes one hour to offload it. This is just a rule of thumb. It can be faster or slower for different people.
Here's my theory on it. Don't drink more than two drinks(regular drinks not two quart hurricanes) within a 24 hour period and you'll never get into trouble. The twelve hour rule is never to be broken and it won't always keep you out of trouble if you're a lush.
Better yet find a healthy alternative to drinking away your layovers.
I wonder if these two guys have admitted to themselves that they are alcoholics?
The rule of thumb for Breathalyzer operators is just that: On average, the body will metabolize 1 ounce of pure alcohol per hour, dependant to a great degree on body weight, or more correctly body mass. As I recall females metabolize alcohol at a slightly slower rate than males. This is why in a properly done DUI arrest timing is so important. This figure is used against the elapsed time from the stop to the actual intoximeter test. Remember too that 12 ounces of beer a glass of wine, about 5 ounces and a shot, 1.5 ounces, of 80 proof spirits all contain about the same amount of pure alcohol, I think about .6 of an ounce. The other myth that circulates is that coffee will help sober up an individual. It has no effect on the elimination of alcohol. It will give you a wide awake drunk however. Sounds like at least one of these guys was depending on the coffee to help him.
I still wonder about that 122 dollar bar bill for 14 beers. I have been to some pretty nice places and I don't believe I ever spent 8 to 9 dollars for a glass of beer. Just based on that and the alcohol level 6 hours or so later, there had to be something else being consumed. Sounds to me like they were still just high enough to think they could bluff their way through.. Dangerous thinking!
There's one thing that no one's even brought up. Think about these guys being semi-sober at sea-level. Now think about them functioning at a cabin altitude of 8,000.
The most bizaar experience I've ever had was when I was on a business trip to Albuquerque and went to that great restaurant at the top of Sandia Mountain (10,000 MSL, roughly). Had a couple of Coors with dinner and knew, from the objective part of my mind, that I was absolutely destroyed. After dinner, I took the cable car back down to the city, a drop of 5,000 feet. I could feel myself sober up (not all the way, since I'm a flat-lander). Fortunately, a cab was used to get to and from the hotel and the cable car station.
Come to think of it, with the transatlantic flights I've taken in the cheap seats, it's interesting to note just how obnoxious the drinkers get (the worst was a bunch of college kids going to Germany with the announced intention of teaching the natives how to drink - right. Same bunch was on return flight with me three weeks later; let's just say they didn't quite succeed in their mission). Or on the semi-chartered flights to catch a cruise ship where everyone's in a party mood. Pretty loud during the cruise portion of the flight, but it gets toned down quite a bit as we descend into the airport.
Jak - at about beer number 4, people tend to buy for their new best friends. I think that will help account for some of the cash spent...
Good point, I've noticed that too. I still think there may have been some "shooters" mixed in there though.
I know the FAA pulled their licenses, which makes me wonder on exactly what grounds. I looked this up once when a friend, student, of mine was arrested for DUI a few years ago. As I recall the FAR said that you must report any DUI conviction, but that they don't pull your license until the second one. This obviously goes pretty far beyond a DUI, and tickets should have been pulled. I assume it was done under some kind of emergency authority. I wonder if they will ever get them back.
It is interesting to speculate what their conduct would have been like had they reached to 8,000 foot cabin altitude level. I know anything above 8 or 10 thousand affects me badly these days, and very quickly. That is without any alcohol.
I remember the conservative response rule. The idea of hung over pilots at Mach.8 is just scary. Any volonteers for throwing the keys!
Lively thread. I imagine the bar tab is explained by some food and snacks taken to soak up the alcohol. Unfortunately, I think this is the tip of an iceberg - repetitive long layovers in far away places - sort of like, "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Now it's more like, what happens in prison, stays in prison. Let that be a lesson to all of us.
I don't know if anyone has kept track, but I saw a news article via Yahoo that these two convicted pilots were sentenced.
Thomas P. Cloyd got 5 years, Christopher Hughes got 2 1/2 years.
The prosecution was asking for 4 for Cloyd, and 3 for Hughes.
It's good to see justice done!
The text of the article is as follows;
Two Pilots Sent to Prison for Drunkenness
By JOHN PAIN, Associated Press Writer
Fri Jul 22, 3:36 AM ET
Two airline pilots who got behind the controls after a night of heavy drinking at a sports bar have been sentenced to prison by a judge who didn't hide his disdain, saying "What were you thinking of?"
Thomas Cloyd, 47, of Peoria, Ariz., and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 44, of Leander, Texas, were drunk when they settled into the cockpit of a Phoenix-bound America West jetliner in 2002. They were arrested before the plane took off but after it had pushed away from the gate.
They were fired and found guilty June 8 of operating an aircraft while drunk.
Cloyd was sentenced to five years in prison. Circuit Judge David Young said he had no sympathy for Cloyd, who had been on probation for an alcohol-related offense just months before his arrest.
Hughes was ordered to serve 2 1/2 years behind bars.
Prosecutors had recommended four years for Cloyd and three for Hughes, sentences that defense attorneys said were too harsh because no one got hurt.
The judge reprimanded both men: "What you did was absolutely wrong," Young said.
The pilots had been at the bar up until about six hours before their departure time; federal rules say pilots cannot drink in the eight hours before a flight. Police stepped in after screeners smelled alcohol on their breath.
Tested hours later, their blood-alcohol levels were above Florida's 0.08 percent limit for drunken driving, which includes aircraft, according to testimony. Their levels were probably much higher when they were in the cockpit, the experts said.
Testimony showed that Cloyd and Hughes ran up a $122 tab and drank seven 34-ounce glasses and seven 16-ounce glasses of beer over six hours at the bar. At dinner before that, they had wine and Cloyd drank a martini, prosecutors said.
The pilots had argued at trial that they were not drunk. The also contended they were not in control of their Airbus 319 carrying 117 passengers and crew because it was being towed by a ground crew when police ordered the jet back to the gate.
Prosecutor Hillah Katz called that argument "an insult."
At the sentencing, the pilots' attorneys said their clients had taken steps to fight their alcoholism and asked the judge to be lenient.
Cloyd's lawyer said the pilot was having marital problems before his arrest and was still distraught by the death of his father in a plane crash years earlier.
Hughes' family declined to comment while leaving the courthouse. When reporters asked Cloyd's wife, Debbie, what she thought of the sentence, she would only say: "Haven't you people had enough?"
Not cool to fly while high.
Ah good. I hadn't hear that they were sentenced. Excellent result.
What!!?? They were sentenced!!?? NO! It was obviously some societal problem that caused this! Couldn't possibly be their responsibility!
BTW, just in case, the above was sarcasm. I've been reading John Stossel's book Give Me A Break (as a break from Atlas Shrugged), and some of the accounts that I've read in it prompted the above.
While agreeing with the general statement that these two pilots did wrong, I can see also that much of the rest of the world has still not attained our level of sactimonious political correctness. As was so very common in this country all through the forties, fifties, and into the seventies, pilots throughout the world still drink heavily on layovers. In our headlong rush to acheive a perfect society, rapt from GOD, but ripe with homosexuality, it is easy to crucify this pair. They were two "macho" guys living in a world that no longer exist. They made a mistake - so, therefore, they are an anathema! I wonder, also, why the Feds dropped their case against these two pilots? I have flown with both of them. I know them as individuals. I've seen them professionally, and scocially. They are not the monsters you may think they are. Let those without sin cast the first stones....
I don't think anybody here used the word "monsters" and I certainly do not think they were. However I think what they did was terrible. I feel very badly for the pair, in that they have lost their careers and who knows what else, but I think the sentences are not entirely unreasonable. Part of sentencing is for the deterent effect, and this action is something I would want to deter even more than driving a car while drunk. Consider that with bail, they should not have to serve that much anyway.
As for the "those without sin" bit, I have never operated any motor vehicle while intoxicated. In fact, I have never operated any motor vehicle after having even one drink. (In fact, I have never had even one drink.) So, on this score, I think I'm okay, if not to cast stones, at least to speak disapprovingly.
I applaud your virtue. I hope you never change, because this world no longer tolerates mistakes. The fancy little judge in the designer robe had a personal vendetta against Chris and Tom. He'll get his just awards later in life though - arrogance always does. He spent weeks preparing for his less than arousing closing speech, while many innocent children of Florida were being abducted, and some even murdered. So, I guess the next time I fly to Florida, I'll feel confident that my pilots will have consumed no alcohol in the previous six weeks, however: I probably won't be bringing my grandchildren with me.
I have to say that I have read all of these posts, I have read most of the new reports and have followed this story for quite a while now.
I am sure that these two men are not monsters, that they have probably average carreer pilots. They probably even have families at home and my heart goes out to those families as their lives will be affected by the outcome of this incident. However, I take issue with your assessment that the judge had a personal vendetta with these two.
They are both grown men who made a terrible, irreparable mistake! They decided to pilot a passenger jet while they were under the influence of an intoxicating substance. Now I am not naive and I am sure that there are other pilots that do this as well. But I sincerely hope that they get caught as well. You can't honestly say that you condone their actions!!!
Further, what kind of defense was it to try to persuade a jury or a judge into thinking they hadn't broken the law because they weren't "technically" operating the aircraft at the time of their arrest. That aircraft would never have been pushed from the gate if the pilot didn't give the "tumbs up". How dare they insult the intelligence of the public, the jury, and the judge with such a ludicrous defense.
Face the facts, those pilots made a serious error in judgement that would have affected not only their lives but the lives of all of the passengers aboard that aircraft. Maybe they would have made the flight without incident, maybe they wouldn't. Thankfully, we never found out the hard way.
I fly for business all of the time and every time I fly I try to arrive early enough to watch the crew board the flight. I want to see the captain or first officer do the walk around. I want to see that they don't have bloodshot eyes, I like to see that they are talking with the rest of the crew and appear to be "flight ready".
For the pilots of the airliners that are flying intoxicated: I hope that you are able to come to your senses soon and admit to yourself that you have a problem before something terrible happens that may ruin you for the rest of your life. If you wish to fly intoxicated, please do so in a plane by yourself, over the unpopulated part of a dessert and provide enough insurance for your family to live in the manner that they have grown accustom to before you start the engine.
...it's just THESE kinds of offenses, that makes me want to proposed a bill to allow police officers to use UNNECESSARY, EXCESSIVE physical force--when apprehending these perpertrators!!!
Let us transport ourselves, for the sake of argument, to our vehicles. Have you or any one in your family, transported yourself and anothers after drinking? How sound was your judgement then? Did you feel you were OK to drive? Most drunks do feel that way and alcoholics are much worse. With a higher tolernce for alcohol they mostly fool themselves. The operative word here is "fool" themselves. Drunks seldom use good judgement nor think rationally as these two ex pilots did. After all, they were just having a "good time." Several questions: what bar does not close at 2:00AM? Why didn't anyone else in contact with these pilot failed to detect the alcohol in their breaths? Why aren't flight attendants trained or caution to watch out for behaviors like this as part of their preflight briefing? Ditto for pilots for flight attendants? Pilots need to contact several company personnel as part of their preflight activities. I am surprised no one else detected the alcohol. And finally, why did it take so long as to allow the plane to be pushe back? Was that step necessary for law enforcement to take action much like a shoplifter needs to leave the premises before being apprehended? One last comment: New comments very drastic consequences as if potential action equals action. Almost killing someone is not the same as killing someone and the law handles this difference. Why not water boarding torture until these ex pilots learn their lesson? We know how well that worked in Gitmo. New, that is almost like somone speeding and almost colliding with your vehicle. Not the same. Reason needs to trump emotion. The law will take care of this situation. It is unlikely that these expilots will fly again. Legally, that is.
Take extra care to avoid activities that might detract from flying.
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