Pilot was 'six times over limit'


Mr Yates told officers he intended to tell the captain he was sick and unable to work. He denies a charge of acting as first officer while over the limit.

A first officer with American Airlines, Mr Yates was to be one of three pilots on a mid-morning flight to Chicago with 181 passengers on board on 11 February last year.

But when he went to go through a security gate for flight crew he could not find his identification security pass.

Arrived in uniform

Mr Yates, a US citizen, was arrested and taken to Altrincham Police Station where a doctor took a blood sample.

This gave a result of 129 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, the court was told.

The legal limit for flying an aircraft is 20 milligrams.


Am I correct that he would have blown a .24? Legal limit is .04, 6 times that is .24??

He says he was not going to flywhich sounds good when you get caught I guess

With so much on the line, why risk it? Or why even think about drinking even a day or two before a flight?


I agree with your last sentence wholeheartedly. My close friend and pilot refuses to touch alcohol 24/7/365. I know another pilot who never drank while flying but drank too much when not flying. Just checked himself into rehab. The two just don’t go together.


Hmmm, me thinks you have just opened Pandora’s Box.


Because alcoholism is an illness. I know, I’m a sober alcoholic. I had my last drink Mothers Day 1999. I began drinking when I was 14, I do not remember any of my senior years in high school, or most of college. I have blank spots in my memory.

I got all my ratings during that period. I won’t admit to anything, for obvious reasons, but I had a flask in my flight bag. I understood the risk, I fooled myself into thinking that I had it under control and that I would never get caught or hurt. I risk my career, my life, the lives of others, and my family.

Was it stupid? Yes. Would I take it back? In a heart beat. Does it affect my life today? Every moment, I look at my 5 kids and what might have happened. The fact that close to 20% of all people that touch alcohol will become alcoholic. 60% will be problem drinkers. 10% won’t drink again, and about 5% will never be affected by it. My grandfather was an alcoholic, my mother had drinking problem, and I was given my first drink by my parents at age 8 when we were in Mexico, because they thought it was funny.

So I look at my kids, 9, 7, 5, 2, 6mo. and pray that I can talk to them, and help them understand before they’re out with their friends and someone offers them something to drink.

How/why did I stop?

In Jan. of 1999 I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior. I quit smoking about 2 weeks latter (I miss it every moment of everyday). I was still drinking and my wife mentioned to some of the men in my church. They cornered me and started to pray over me. That was creepy, but in that moment I realized that there were people out there that loved me more then I loved myself. They simply asked me to pray for guidance. That was April '99. I made a half hearted effort to pray, I rationalized that Jesus turned that water into wine, so it’s ok. My wife was heart broken, she promissed to take our daughter and leave. I began to go on the road more just to hide the drinking. We had a party to go to for a cousins graduation in PA. I flew out there and met my wife and she said that she did not want me drinking that weekend. So…my cousin offers me a beer and I say, “My wife doesn’t want me drinking,” to which she replies, “I don’t care what you do, but pray first.” So believe it or not I did. “Ok Lord, if this really isn’t for me, if it isn’t good for me, if it doesn’t glorify you, then make it taste bad in my mouth.” I drank about half the beer, and then excused myself to the bathroom where I threw up for about 2 hours. I was the worst tasting thing I have ever had in my month. In that moment the Lord turned my life around. Never EVER since then have I touched anything?

Daily I thank God for that moment. It restored my marriage and my family. My career took off and it’s been mostly blue skies ever since.

Was it hard? Not really. I understood that it was wrong. I understood that it was hurting others. I understood that I could love myself and respect myself enough not to drink.

Does that mean I somehow better then anyone else? No. I’ve made huge mistakes, I still make mistakes everyday. But, though I’m not perfect, I am forgiven.