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Grapevine : August 2011
A tourist visiting New York for the first time is lost. He stops on the street to ask one of New York's finest how to get to Carnegie Hall, a theater renowned for its artis- tic performances. "Well, sir," responds the offi- cer without blinking an eye, "the best way to get to Carnegie Hall is lots of practice." I came into AA over a decade ago, a beaten, former Air Force command pilot. After I retired from active duty, years of excessive alcohol consump- tion took me on a long flight from re- ality to a destination of desperation and despair. My final alcoholic days landed me flat on my back in a de- tox treatment center. Discovering AA and the Twelve Steps was like finally landing a battered aircraft, crippled from a long combat mission, shot full of bullet holes, on its last engine, fuel tank filled with nothing but fumes. I couldn't have flown another minute, or walked another alcoholic mile, if I hadn't landed safely in the hospital. It took a few days in detox be- fore I started to feel like I might be on the mend, realizing gradually that recovery wasn't going to be easy or quick. There was no supersonic cure available for this old pilot. I'd been flying on gin and vermouth for more years than I cared to remember and it was going to take time, treatment and trained experts to get me back to quality flying condition. In my 25 years as a USAF pilot, I held IP (Instructor Pilot) ratings in three different airplanes. My job was to teach pilots how to fly these three specific military aircraft, each one complex and unique. Flying complicated airplanes skillfully is very much like soberly facing the difficult challenges of life. In flying, you need to study books on theories aagrapevine.org 51