ALPA's Communications Department provides information and support for news media inquiries. An ALPA communications representative can be reached in the Herndon, Va. office at (703) 481-4440.

News Release

Release #02.073i
August 23, 2002

Richmond Pilot Honored With ALPA Superior Airmanship Award

WASHINGTON, D.C.—William McDorman, a DHL second officer and resident of Richmond, VA, was awarded a Superior Airmanship Award from the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). The award was presented on Aug. 22, during the Association’s annual Air Safety Forum.

ALPA honored Second Officer McDorman for his help in preventing a disastrous head-on collision with another aircraft and in the process saving an untold number of human lives on Sept. 25, 2001, in Mexico City. Along with Second Officer McDorman, the captain and first officer of Flight 951, Steve Norris and Blaine Comfort, also were honored with Superior Airmanship Awards.

Flight 951 had been cleared for takeoff at the Mexico City airport when, at approximately 115 mph (100 knots), Second Officer McDorman spotted another aircraft on the same runway. At this time all three crewmembers saw an Air France Boeing 777 that had taxied onto the runway. The crew immediately rejected the takeoff. Unfortunately, even with all four DC-8 engines in maximum reverse and with maximum brake applied, it quickly became obvious that the aircraft was not going to stop on the wet runway in time to avoid a collision with the other aircraft. The crew therefore elected to veer the DC-8 off the runway to the right. The aircraft departed the runway at a speed of about 104 mph (90 knots) and traveled through the muddy grass between the runways. Before coming to rest with the nose wheel on the south edge of a taxiway, the aircraft traveled about a thousand feet, crossing a service road and successfully averting several dangerous obstacles. The two aircraft cleared each other by approximately 100 feet.

Second Officer McDorman has flown for DHL Airways, Inc., for almost four years and is currently based at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. He received his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. Second Officer McDorman currently resides in his hometown of Richmond. Prior to joining DHL, he flew for Mesa Airlines and served in the U.S. Army.

ALPA is the union representing most commercial airline pilots in North America, and is the industry’s leading safety advocate. It represents more than 66,000 pilots at 43 carriers in the U.S. and Canada. Its website is


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