Wednesday, March 31, 2010

ALPA and Airline Pilot Caught in a Whopper


At first glance you might think the stories I filed in Thursday's New York Post and Dallas Morning News are an April Fool's joke, but alas for everyone concerned, what reads like fiction in the newspaper is actually, painfully true. The article profiling American Eagle pilot Timothy Martins in this month's issue of Air Line Pilot magazine by contrast, is not.



In the union's attempt to win back the respect of the flying public, after several high profile events in which pilots performed at less-than-their-best, it began publishing a monthly profile of a pilot nominated for his or her demonstration of the ALPA code of ethics. In episode two, Jan Steenblik, the technical editor of the magazine, has written what can generously be described as the lightest of puff pieces on American Eagle first officer Martins.

The thousand word article is headlined, "Mature Beyond His Years" and discusses Martins' off-hours activities - flying F-16s for the New Jersey National Guard 177th Fighter Wing, firefighting with the New York Fire Department and volunteering at the food pantry in his hometown of Nesconset, N.Y.

I can't speak to the food pantry, but in conversations on Wednesday with the National Guard and the NYFD I was told, "never heard of the guy."

Martins, 24, did attend Dowling College School of Aviation in Long Island, N.Y, but not in 2001 at the age of 16, as reported in the magazine, but 4 years later and he did not graduate.

Whether Martins was misquoted by the author, the victim of some macabre hoax, or engaging in what he thought was harmless disingenuousness with Steenblik, I can't say. Martins did not reply to my email or phone message. But across the vastness of cyberspace and inside the offices of ALPA headquarters, there's a lot of scratching of heads going on.

Oh wait, let me add Dallas to that list. I have been told by folks in the know, that in Dallas, where American Eagle has its corporate office, Martins has been grounded for the time being.

The airline's spokeswoman, Andrea Huguely, won't confirm that, of course, citing employee confidentiality. She told me that Martins has all the required F.A.A. certificates to legally carry fare paying passengers on a part 121 airline.

But this evening in a conversation with Jim Hall, the former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board wondered whether having the right F.A.A. tickets was enough.

“Anyone who is charged with a responsibility for transporting the lives of other people safely who is evidently intentionally fabricating or embellishing credentials or falsifying stories, that’s obviously a terrible problem that should be of concern to the airline.”

There's plenty more to ruminate about in this bizarre tale, but I think I'll wait until the first stories run and see what new revelations they prompt.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your efforts on this story Christine - stick with it and make sure this guy is fully exposed.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps throw a bone to the baseops.net community that initially outted this moron.

Anonymous said...

If American Eagle put every lying pilot on leave, there would only be about 20 pilots to fly the routes. Male pilots are the biggest embellishers out there. It's unfortunate that the author of the article failed to check any "facts". Isn't that journalism 101?
My bs detector went into high when I flew with Mr. Martins, but since I've been listening to "stories" longer than he has been alive, I filtered it, and we flew 4 days together. During that time, he operated the aircraft safely, competently, and more importantly, didn't drive me too crazy while doing so.
It's unfortunate that this has happened, and he has angered a lot of people, but if he didn't lie on his application, I think we should all move on.

Christine Negroni said...

The online pilot community deserves a big kudo for discovering this story. Absolutely. Some of the stuff they turned up, well, if journalism wasn't in a bigger financial crisis than airlines, I'd be worried about the competition!

Anonymous said...

Move on? Are you kidding me? Look up FedEx 705 on wikipedia (or google it using any other resource) and tell me if you still agree. I can't believe Eagle still let this clown fly a turn after this story broke.

Anonymous said...

Christine, did you attempt contact with Jan Steenblik? Would be interested to hear more of the ALPA side and why, apparently, there was no fact checking. Even though it is a "puff" piece, would not most people check some facts. Not in the journalism world, not sure what the standards are. Thanks

Anonymous said...

This guy is full of it, to be sure. But as long as he was truthful on his employment application, possesses the proper FAA commercial pilot licenses, passes his recurrent training and check-rides, flies competently and safely then there is nothing the company can or should do to him.

EVERYBODY knows who he is now. Every time he gets on a plane, the rest of the crow will say "oh, you're that guy." Let him live with the shame.

Anonymous said...

I think the shame alone is reason enough for this guy NOT to be flying! It's got to be a huge distraction from properly doing his job; knowing that the guy he's flying with wants no association with him and thinks he's a fool. Even scabs have someone to relate to-other scabs. In ten years of doing this for a living, I've seen people exaggerate a little, sure. But I've never had anyone come CLOSE to the level of B.S. that Mr. Martins displays.

Again, read reports of FedEx 705. The parallels between Mr. Martins and Auburn Calloway are undeniable.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your work on this story. As an Air Force pilot, it really bothers me that people like Tim can get away with mocking our profession while my bros and I fly into dangerous situations every day.

This pathological liar has no place in a cockpit, and I hope news of this story spreads as warning to others who feel the need to disgrace our profession and mock our military service.

Anonymous said...

I lied too.

I claimed I was a cook in the Army but I was really a potato peeler.

Sue me.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the pilot that flew with this shitbag...

I'm pretty sure your pilot group would disagree to your comment referring to pilots being the worst embellishers.. Speak for yourself if that's how you operate... And he operated an aircraft safely and didn't get on your nerves?? Probably because you're a shitbag too!
Are you joking.. Being physically capable to operate an aircraft in a safe manner is one thing..and being able to do it mentally fit is another.
Journalism 101?? All the sources you need are on baseops and the ALPA publication.

Christine... Are you hot and single??

Anonymous said...

This guy has an illness. Everyone who knows him knows his past of truth stretching and bending.

He cannot help himself. Hopefully his union is reaching out to him and getting him the help that he needs.

Anonymous said...

Great story! I was actually on the other side of this guys BS and actually believed him! When someone tells you that they just got back from flying missions in Iraq, their is no reason not to belive them I feel played and this idiot deserves everything he's getting and more! Even if AE let's him back to fly, will any captain out there actually fly with him? Evey captain I've talked to says, "no way!"
By the way I haven't heard any mention of the fact that this guy is a "Federal Flight Deck Officer" meaning he straps a gun to his belt every time he is in the cockpit!!! Also, being an FFDO means you skip security screening.
So, to Tims Martins I say, thank you for the hours of entertainment that you have brought to my life in the past few days. You are Tim the milkman Martins and you are the are a clown!!!

Christine Negroni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christine Negroni said...

Please contact me at christine.negroni@gmail.com if you have information that Timothy Martins participated in the FFDO program.

Anonymous said...

Well as a furlouighed airline pilot and i'm not embellishing, I think the FAA should yank his certificate forever. How? Well thats easy. They require for even a private pilot the canidate for the appilication be of stron moral character and this deuche bag clear does not. Also use furloughed guys could use jobs too. I never lied. Jst had my job stolen from underneth me by a punk ass 233 year old at Republic.

Anonymous said...

I think to hold an ATP you have to have "stron" moral character. A 233 year old Republic pilot? Really?? No more drinking and posting. I do agree with you about the Replublic shits though. Must be former Midwest.

Anonymous said...

People lie.
Period.
Big lie, little lie, a lie is a lie.

Long said...

I have visited this site and got lots of information than other site visited before a month.


part-time job

Anonymous said...

People work hard like crazy to become pilots for the Air Force, Navy and the Army, this douchebag couldve made his story for some chick in a bar, but to tell everyone that he's a fighter pilot/airline pilot/ fire-fighter........list goes on for sure. Just to impress himself for a minute he has ruined his whole career. He was on baseops.net forum, reading the whole thing, then mysteriously his Facebook page and LinkedIn page disappeared.

Ticket Air said...

Thanks for sharing the information. knowing that the guy he's flying with wants no association with him and thinks he's a fool.

varahagiri said...

I enjoyed reading it.I need to read more on this topic...I admiring time and effort you put in your blog, because it is obviously one great place where I can find lot of useful info.
aviation apps

njoy said...

Separate and distinct from all the other reasons the Southwest - AirTran marriage might be good, on the doing-the-right-thing-front - the two airlines seem highly compatible.
ipad aviation apps