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Flying Drunk

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

Joseph Balzer

Format: Hardcover, 240 pages
ISBN: 978-1-932714-71-5
eBook: 978-1-61121-048-4
On Sale: July 2009

Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-61121-164-1
ebook: 978-1-61121-048-4
On Sale: July 2013

30 photos

- CNN's Campbell Brown interviews Joe Balzer

- The Chicago Tribune interviews Joe Balzer


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About this Book

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.

Since he was a young boy, Joe Balzer dreamed of flying. He pursued his goal with a vigorous passion and earned his pilot licenses, piling up hours of flight time with a wide variety of planes and jets with one overarching goal: to one day fly for a major airline. But Joe had a problem. He was an alcoholic and refused to admit to himself that he had a problem.

His alcoholism caught up with him in March 1990, when Joe was arrested with two other pilots for flying a commercial airliner while under the influence of alcohol. His world began crumbling around him and his new marriage faced the ultimate test. He lost his promising career and his dignity. Every major media outlet, including The New York Times, Newsweek, and Time Magazine covered the shocking story for the stunned American flying public. The trial that followed drained Joe's life's savings and federal prison nearly broke him. Flying Drunk is Joe's bittersweet and thoroughly chilling memoir of his twisted journey to a Federal courtroom, his time in the notorious Federal penitentiary system in Atlanta, 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.

Flying Drunk is an incredible journey of the human spirit, from childhood to hell, and back again. Everyone should read and heed its message of hope and redemption. No one who does will ever forget it.

Joseph Balzer

Joe 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. Read More...

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