Drunk Pilot's Excuse: I Got Sauced While Sleeping

An American Airlines pilot was acquitted of the charge of attempting to operate a plane while under the influence of alcohol. The cause for acquittal: Sleepdrinking!

A British jury in Manchester heard testimony that first officer James Yates had been on a six-hour drinking binge the night before his flight to Chicago. However, what put him over the top was the third of a bottle of whiskey which he believes he drank in his sleep.

He denied trying to actually co-pilot the plane, claiming that he wanted to get to the airport to alert the captain that he was in no condition to fly. He was busted at the security checkpoint. The flight was delayed, but luckily only sober pilots guided the plane home.

The money quote:

He said a third of a bottle of whisky he had bought that day may have disappeared overnight, because “strange things” sometimes happened in his sleep.

“Strange things”? Any other examples? Do tell!

Despite being let off the hook by the jury, he is expected to lose his job. MARK ASHLEY

Pilot: I drank in my sleep [The Herald-Sun]
(Photo: NoiseCollusion)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Hexum2600 says:

    On a daily basis i down an entire bottle of whiskey during my sleep. Heck, I became an alcholic and didn’t know because I only drank while I was asleep!

    Best part… he shows up at the airport, drunk, to try and tell the captain hes in no condition to fly. He didn’t call in, or even play it off as being sick, he supposedly showed up to tell them he couldn’t fly because of a drinking binge he had been on the night before.

    Everyone knows, the proper excuse for calling off after a night of drinking is “a sore throat, stiff everywhere… I think I may be getting the flu”

  2. mackjaz says:

    What happens to a person’s self-image when they come up with such bullshit? Does anybody really believe such drivel? He will probably escape ANY punishment, but he still has to look at himself in the mirror. What a pathetic loser.

  3. mac-phisto says:

    another “strange thing” that happened in my sleep once – i piloted a flight from ATL to JFK. landed ‘er ok, supposed to land be at PHL though……

  4. gardencat says:

    The best thing about this story is that someone paid attention and caught this guy before he ever got on that plane. Yet somehow, it does make me wonder how many other times he drank, came to work and boarded a plane unnoticed…

  5. RandomHookup says:

    I was going to comment on the stupidity of the jury, but then I saw the trial was in Manchester, so, nevermind….

  6. Coder4Life says:

    Wow, Yeah officer I don’t know how I got drunk… I think I am sleep driving.. That would fly real well with the authorities around here.

  7. afran303 says:

    So his defense is that he drank in his sleep, but didn’t he admit to voluntarily taking Ambien? He therefore brought it on himself. Is the burden for a FUI in the UK “beyond an unreasonable doubt”?

  8. CumaeanSibyl says:

    First sleep-sex, now sleep-drinking… hey, if I kill someone can I use “sleep-stabbing” as a defense?

  9. OnceWasCool says:

    I’m impressed with the guy. Best I ever did in my sleep was make a tent. :)

  10. zentec says:

    What ever happened to the pilot’s mantra of “12 hours between bottle and throttle?

    I certainly hope the airline decides that sleep drinking or not, this person has a problem and they need not to be operating an aircraft.

  11. snowferret says:

    Drinking in his SLEEP? The THIRD bottle of whiskey? Was this guy training for the Alcaholic olympics? An all this the night before he has to fly… Fuck.. what wa he planning on doing?

    “He said a third of a bottle of whisky he had bought that day may have disappeared overnight, because “strange things” sometimes happened in his sleep.”

    MAY have disappeard overnight? Or maybe he was just so drunk he couldn’t remember drinking it?

  12. slakko says:

    Given the “Ambien army” claims that have been touted over sleep-everything, all he should have had to do is present a prescription and claims of sleep-drinking would suddenly have become very hard to refute. I don’t know how he managed to make sleep-drinking a credible excuse with the jury otherwise.

    Going with the prescription medicine method doesn’t make the argument that much less absurd, but with the evidence out there it could probably save him from a jury if not from his actual job.

  13. Trai_Dep says:

    I would be curious to see if the guy was taking Ambien. That (and other new sleep aids in that class) have a documented history of causing some strange-assed sleepwalking sh*t.

    Remember all the bad press that the Kennedy congressman got for sleep-driving his car into a DC street barrier, and his not recollecting it? The snide comments across the blogosphere? Turned out: Ambien.

    There’s numerous other cases as well. How do you put a dollar figure on damage to people’s reputation because of this frankendrug? How do you weed out the real vs. fake claims? I have no idea. But it’s a real issue.

    Either the company should agree to pay for any and all repercussions of people that take their product, or they should recall it.

  14. healthdog says:

    @ CumaeanSibyl : It’s already happened.


  15. I used to do all sorts of stuff, like eat and cook, on Ambien. I’d wake up in the morning to a messy kitchen. [I live alone and I’m a neat freak]. True story. Scary stuff.