Release #06.036
July 27, 2006

Airline Pilots in the Spotlight
ALPA Presents Safety Awards at Its Annual Air Safety Forum

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- The Air Line Pilots Association Int’l (ALPA) today bestowed honors on three pilots for their contributions to safety, and on three cockpit crews who exhibited superior airmanship when confronted with potentially disastrous developments in the air (click on the names to read the news release for that individual). The awards were presented by ALPA president Capt. Duane Woerth at the Association’s annual Air Safety Forum and Awards Banquet in Washington, D.C. The Awards Banquet was held on the same date of the Association’s 75th anniversary, July 27th.

Capt. Lindsay Fenwick, a Northwest Airlines pilot, received ALPA’s top safety honor, the Air Safety Award. This is bestowed each year on a pilot who has made significant contributions to safety through volunteer service in the Association’s air safety structure. Capt. Fenwick’s tireless work to improve air safety includes work as chief investigator for the Northwest Airlines chapter of ALPA for 10 years, where he has represented ALPA during numerous NTSB investigations. He also has served as the U.S. representative to the Accident Analysis Committee of the International Federation of Air Line Pilots Associations (IFALPA).

Capt. Richard W. Clarke, a United Airlines pilot, received a Presidential Citation for his efforts to advance the principles of Safety Management Systems (SMS) in numerous airline, government, and industry groups. Capt. Clarke also served for four years as a staff engineer for ALPA’s Engineering and Air Safety Department, served as a private safety consultant, and was the treasurer and vice president of the System Safety Society – a non-profit organization supporting safety professionals around the world.

A Presidential Citation also was awarded to Frank L. Condefer, a Northwest Airlines first officer for his work in improving the standards governing the safe carriage of dangerous goods on aircraft. Condefer has spent many hours of his free time devoted to making the transportation of hazardous materials simple, seamless, and safe. He served 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, where he honed his skills by serving as both a safety officer and as a board member investigating accidents. First Officer Condefer serves as the air safety chairman for his local council, the secretary-treasurer of the ALPA President’s Committee for Cargo, and the Northwest pilots’ Dangerous Goods Coordinator.

A third Presidential Citation went to Enrique “Rick” L. Valdes, a United Airlines captain for his efforts to improve safety through his work in defining English language proficiency standards. In addition to several local council positions, Capt. Valdes has served as the United pilots’ Latin American Coordinator and chairman of ALPA’s Latin American Air Traffic Advisory Group. Presently, he is the United pilots’ Central Air Safety vice chairman, a member of the United Pilot Dispatcher Communications Group, and a representative to the International Civil Aviation Association, working with the Professional Requirement in English Study Group.

A Superior Airmanship Award went to an Air Transat crew, Capt. Martin Gauthier (in English | en Français) and First Officer Benoît Loiselle (in English | en Français). On a March 6, 2005 flight from Varadero, Cuba to Quebec City, the rudder on their Airbus A310 ripped off while flying at 35,000 feet. The flight was carrying 261 passengers and 9 crew members. The pilots safely returned to Varadero despite the fact that the aircraft was very difficult to handle. While the accident remains under investigation, it is clear that Capt. Gauthier and F/O Loiselle performed superbly.

The second Superior Airmanship Award went to Capt. Henry Jones and First Officer James Dannahower, a US Airways B737 crew whose swift actions helped avert a potential collision. Flight 1170 departed Runway 15R at Boston’s Logan International Airport bound for Philadelphia on the evening of June 9, 2005. As they were rolling down the runway, First Officer Dannahower recognized an Aer Lingus Airbus A330 set to cross their runway and immediately pushed against the control yoke to prevent Capt. Jones from rotating the B737. Capt. Jones wisely delayed the rotation and continued the takeoff. The B737, with 103 passengers and 6 crew members, rolled under the A330, missing it by an estimated 170 feet. Subsequent investigation revealed that one air traffic controller in the Logan tower had cleared US Airways flight 1170 for takeoff on Runway 9, while a different controller had cleared Aer Lingus Flight 132 for takeoff on Runway15R. The airport terminal blocked any line of sight between the two air crews.

A third Superior Airmanship Award went to a Midwest Airlines crew, Capt. Matt Klingsporn and First Officer James Findley. Their plane, an MD-80 bound for Toronto and carrying 37 members of the New Jersey Devils professional hockey team attempted to depart Newark’s Liberty International Airport on the evening of February 3, 2006. Rolling down the runway, Capt. Klingsporn attempted to raise the nose of the airplane as it reached takeoff speed. The plane would not lift off. Capt. Klingsporn immediately made the decision to reject the takeoff. A maintenance engineer later found that a small screw jammed the horizontal stabilizer. There was no way the plane could have taken flight. The crew's handling of the rejected takeoff was flawless and their action underscores the importance of a trained, experienced flight crew who made a split second decision that saved countless lives.

ALPA represents 62,000 airline pilots at 40 carriers in the U.S. and Canada. Its motto, “Schedule with Safety,” reflects the union’s deep commitment to provide the maximum level of safety to airline operations. Its web site is

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ALPA CONTACTS: Jeff Orschel, (703) 481-4459,