Release #10.033
August 31, 2010

American Eagle Pilot to Receive ALPA Pilot Assistance Award
Sigourney, Iowa, Pilot Recognized as Leader in Pilot Assistance Programs

WASHINGTON—The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), will recognize American Eagle First Officer Richard Wilkening with its Pilot Assistance Award for his many years of exemplary service in working with pilot assistance programs at his airline and at many other ALPA pilot groups. The award will be presented to F/O Wilkening on August 31 at ALPA’s 56th Air Safety Forum Awards Dinner.

“Thanks to ALPA’s Pilot Assistance Program, pilots who need help with personal challenges receive it and, when it’s appropriate, are able to return to the cockpit because of pilots like F/O Wilkening,” said ALPA president Capt. John Prater. “He is the embodiment of the ALPA slogan, ‘Pilots Helping Pilots.’”

During his eight years with Pilot Assistance, F/O Wilkening has worked with the Aeromedical and the Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS) Committees. As an active member of these Pilot Assistance functions, he continues to serve as pilot liaison to ALPA’s Aeromedical Office in Denver, Colo., and works with pilots to deal with personal challenges and, in some cases, helps them restore their FAA medical certification. He has assisted members of both ALPA and non-ALPA pilot groups.

“F/O Wilkening works closely with pilots who self-disclose a problem that may affect their jobs, including issues they may have with substance use,” explained ALPA HIMS Committee chairman Capt. Dana Archibald (American Eagle). “His work is strictly confidential, and Rich conducts himself with respect, dignity, and professionalism. Pilots who recover are issued Special Issuance Medical Certificates by the FAA, enabling them to return to the cockpit, thanks to the efforts and commitment of pilot volunteers like Rich.”

Capt. Prater added, “Because of the restricted and confidential nature of Rich’s work, it’s difficult to talk about the tremendous success he’s personally experienced or the many examples of the invaluable contributions he’s made. Suffice to say that his keen understanding of the demands and stress associated with airline flying, coupled with his knowledge of and experience with the tools to help affected pilots recover, as well as his compassionate and understanding nature, make him a crucial member of the Pilot Assistance team.”

ALPA’s Pilot Assistance Committee provides guidance and help to pilots having difficulty in any aspect of their professional or personal lives that may affect their work. The ALPA Aeromedical Committee assists pilots in maintaining or regaining their aeromedical certification and also conducts and coordinates medical research to enhance the physical and psychological well-being of ALPA’s pilot force.

An Embraer 145 first officer, F/O Wilkening was hired by American Eagle in 2000.

Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union, representing nearly 53,000 pilots at 38 airlines in the United States and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at


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