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News Release

Release #82.f
August 16, 2001

Redlands Pilot Honored With ALPA Safety Volunteer Award

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Clifton "Gene" Rowe, an Alaska Airlines captain and resident of Redlands, CA, was awarded a Presidential Citation for Outstanding Service in Air Safety from the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). The award was presented on Aug. 15, 2001, at the Association’s annual Air Safety Forum.

ALPA honored Capt. Rowe for his heroic actions to control a disruptive passenger during a March 2000 flight from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to San Francisco. The first officer of the flight, Robert Porkolab, also was presented with a Presidential Citation award. While the pilots’ MD-80 was airborne, a 250-pound man became violent and assaulted crewmembers and passengers while trying to break into the flight deck. The passenger threatened to kill the passengers, and revealed that he intended to crash the aircraft. After breaking through the locked flight-deck security door, he tried to grab the airplane’s fuel control handles in an attempt to shut off the engines.

Once the disruptive passenger was in the flight deck, Porkolab, assisted by seven other passengers and crewmembers, subdued and physically restrained him while Capt. Rowe continued to control the aircraft safely until an emergency landing could be made in San Francisco. Capt. Rowe landed the plane safely, and maintained his composure and professionalism until authorities arrested the passenger.

Capt. Rowe is currently based in Los Angeles. He has been with Alaska Airlines for 15 years. Capt. Rowe began his professional flying career with the U.S. Navy in 1969. After his stint in the Navy, Capt. Rowe flew for both Continental Airlines and Jet America. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Pittsburgh, and is married to Laura J. Hutchison, formerly of Upland, CA.

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