WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Northwest Airlines pilot convicted of flying a commercial airliner while intoxicated 11 years ago was pardoned by President Clinton.
Norman Lyle Prouse was sentenced to 16 months after admitting to drinking heavily at a bar just hours before a flight from Fargo, N.D., to Minneapolis in 1990.
Prouse said from his home in Conyers, Ga., that Saturday's pardon caught him by surprise even though he worked hard to win it.
"I started this two years ago this month, and there have been a million foot-pounds of energy and effort expended," he said. "It's like trying to break through the Great Wall of China."
Prouse said he sought the pardon to have his civil rights restored, especially the right to own firearms. While he received a pardon from the state of Georgia, it didn't clearly allow him to possess firearms everywhere, he said.
Prouse said he underwent an extensive FBI investigation and series of background checks to get the pardon.
Two hours before leaving office, Clinton pardoned 140 Americans, including Prouse, erasing their criminal records.
Prouse had undergone treatment and Northwest gave him a second chance, returning him to the air as a co-pilot in 1995.
Two years later, he earned back his captain's stripes and was assigned to fly Boeing 747 jumbo jets. He retired in 1998 when he hit the mandatory retirement age of 60.
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