Episode 201: Birds of a Feather

Marty B. is a recovering alcoholic and a retired airline pilot. He got sober in AA and after his first year of sobriety, another pilot introduced him to Birds of a Feather, a worldwide network of AA meetings established for airline pilots and cockpit crewmembers. In this episode, Marty describes the unique needs of pilots in recovery and how Birds of a Feather offers a helping hand. 

Key points and topics discussed 

  • What is Birds of a Feather (BOAF)? 
  • The history of BOAF. 
  • Marty’s Story.
  • How airlines deal with pilots who have drinking problems.  
  • How pilots find BOAF. 
  • The impact that COVID has had on BOAF meetings. 
  • Unique issues faced by pilots in recovery. 
  • The importance of confidentiality and anonymity for pilots in recovery.

Memorable quotes 

We need a place where we can go that’s not affiliated with the airline and not affiliated with the Union, and of course, people got sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. — Marty 

Because of the rules of the Federal Aviation Administration, a lot of people were driven underground. They are hesitant to talk about things like where they work, or what they do. You wouldn’t want to go to a meeting with the general public and have people, you know, be alarmed. —Marty

The FAA doesn’t mandate AA, they can’t do that legally, but the Aviation Medical Examiner may, and they are happy when they see people in a 12-Step program. — Marty 

A lot of people get sober in Birds of a Feather and we encourage them to strengthen their sobriety by attending regular AA meetings. — Marty 


Birds of a Feather Website