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Interview with Lyle Prouse, author of ‘Final Approach’



Lyle Prouse was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1938. He is part Comanche and grew up in an alcoholic home in a World War II housing project. He was active in his Native American community. After graduating from High School in Wichita, Lyle joined the Marines as a private but made the rare transition from enlisted to officer grade and ultimately Captain, a jet fighter pilot flying combat missions in Vietnam.

After his discharge from the Corps, Lyle became an airline captain for Northwest Airlines and flew for nearly 22 years before the same alcoholism that killed his parents almost destroyed his life. He was the first commercial pilot ever arrested and sent to prison for flying drunk.

The blistering media coverage was relentless as he was fired, stripped of all flying certificates, tried, convicted, and sent to Federal prison for sixteen months. The trial judge added sanctions on top of the conviction to guarantee he would never fly again. In spite of all the seemingly impossible obstacles, Lyle got sober, experienced many breathtaking miracles, returned to Northwest Airlines and retired as a 747 captain. In January of 2001 he received a full Presidential pardon from then President Bill Clinton.

Today, Lyle is a husband, father, and grandfather. He has been sober over twenty-one years and has devoted his life to helping others overcome alcoholism. He is still flying and has participated with all the major airlines in their ongoing alcohol programs. He remains active in Native American sobriety movements.

His latest book is Final Approach: Northwest Airline Flight 650 Tragedy and Triumph.

You can visit his website at

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Lyle.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

My name is Lyle Prouse and I’m a first time publisher.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I’m self-published.  I was about to be published in September of 2007 but it fell through mere months prior when the publisher suddenly insisted on two changes that had a direct effect on the story integrity.  I returned their advance of $8,750 and said I could not do that.  We’d turned down two TV movie offers because of their need to take a lot of creative license with the story, making it one of those loosely “based on a true story” productions.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

It was quick because the book had already been written and the company I chose (CreateSpace) was absolutely excellent.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I was happy to have it done and over since I’d started the memoir in either ’02 or ’03, nearly published it in September of 2007, dropped it for four years, and was finally through with it in November, 2011.

I didn’t do anything to celebrate, except breathe a sigh of relief and sit back.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

A friend built me a website ( and, later, I contacted Dorothy Thompson who has steered me to this part.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’m not sure I can define either of those.  I don’t really think of myself as a published author.  I’m a retired airline Captain and all I’ve done is write the story I needed to write for my grandkids, friends, and family.  It’s a legacy and I’m happy I’ve completed it.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I’ve been disappointed that it’s so difficult to get anyone to stop and actually read what’s been written, even with an introduction written by Ted Koppel.

I know there must be mountains of manuscripts being submitted and it’s been clear to me that the modus operandi is either a quick speed read, hurry through – or a pick and choose sampling of a page here and a page there.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I’ve got no ego invested in this.  I’m glad it’s done and over; I’m proud of the effort I invested and the end result.  The reader reviews on initially shocked me with the enthusiasm and strong, positive comments, and that’s been very rewarding and fulfilling.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Not really.  I devoutly believe that speaking honestly and from the heart is the most effective way to communicate to readers.  And I’ve done my best in that regard.  I don’t believe truth and honesty should ever be compromised and I’m glad I refused to do that with the major publishing company I mentioned earlier.  No book, or TV movie, is ever worth the loss of integrity or the sellout of self.

1 Comment

  1. wolfecarolyn says:

    What an amazingly brave person you are! So glad that you have overcome your challenges and have written your book with such integrity. This looks like a must read book for me. Best wishes on your success!

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