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News Release

Release #82.b
August 16, 2001

San Marcos Pilot Honored With ALPA Superior Airmanship Award

WASHINGTON D.C.-- John Vreeken, an American Eagle Airlines captain and resident of San Marcos, CA; was awarded a Superior Airmanship Award from the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) for safely landing an aircraft which experienced engine failure. The award was presented on Aug. 15, 2001 at the Association’s annual Air Safety Forum.

ALPA honored Vreeken for his exemplary actions in safely landing the Saab 340, which experienced catastrophic engine failures during the evening of December 11, 2000, with no injuries or damage. The first officer of flight 3215, Elizabeth Hallworth, also was honored with a Superior Airmanship Award.

Flight 3215 was just north of Paso Robles when a loud pop was heard in conjunction with a thud felt through the airframe. Warning lights and panel instruments indicated that the engine was no longer producing power. Capt. Vreeken shut off the engine. He then positioned the condition lever in order to shut off the fuel and feather the propeller. Neither this nor using the manual feather switch caused the propeller to move to the feathered position. Capt. Vreeken and Hallworth declared an emergency and prepared to land at the airport in Paso Robles. Due to weather conditions, the pilots had to initiate an instrument approach, and they were forced to circle to land without the help of air traffic controllers. The aircraft landed safely with no injuries.

Capt. Vreeken has flown for American Eagle for six years and is currently based at Los Angeles International Airport. His professional flying career began in 1991 with Schaefer Air Ambulance in Imperial, CA. He later flew for Sun Care Air Ambulance in Yuma, AZ. He received his associate’s degree in aeronautical science from Palomar College in San Marcos, CA. Capt. Vreeken is married to the former Anglea Knutson and they have two children - Jordan, age 2, and Gerrit, 5 months.

ALPA is the union representing most commercial airline pilots in North America, and is the industry’s leading safety advocate. It represents 66,000 pilots at 47 carriers in the U.S. and Canada.


ALPA Contacts: John Mazor, Anya Piazza (703) 481-4440