MORE ABOUT BIRDS OF A FEATHER
MORE ABOUT BIRDS OF A FEATHER AND ITS BEGINNINGS
Excerpt from an address given on behalf of BOAF, at the Alcohol Awareness Hour, Eisenhower Medical Center, April 1978, by Ward B. (SEA).
"About BOAF: A clinical diagnosis of alcoholism or a history of an excessive drinking habit disqualifies an aviator from holding the FAA medical certificate which permits him to work as an airman. Thus an aviator having a problem with alcohol whose condition became known was automatically grounded. BOAF was formed in 1975 to assist troubled airmen to sobriety, thereby saving lives and careers. It was formed by three recovered pilots and two non-pilot airmen in the Pacific Northwest. In 1976 the Federal Air Surgeon, H. L. Reighard, a very perceptive and realistic practitioner, believed that air safety is to be enhanced by assisting airmen to recovery rather than having them remain in the closet along with their booze. There are now ten BOAF organizations in the U.S. and two International. BOAF has done exactly as the founders had hoped: assisting airmen toward sobriety."
Today, Birds Of A Feather International serves the same purpose: to assist troubled airmen toward sobriety, thereby saving lives and careers. There are now many more "Nests" throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.
Suggested pages: HISTORY ONE PILOT'S STORY
How Birds of a Feather "works" can best be summed up by an e-mail sent from a past BOAF Secretary to another Bird in the program. This communication still stands as one of the better explanations of what Birds of a Feather is and what it does. We hereby provide it to you in its entirety:
From Fritz G. July 22, 1995 (email)
As most of you know, my term of office as your trusted servant Secretary is done. I know that I was not elected to "honor" me, it was expected that I would do work to function as a Secretary and provide whatever service I could. I think I have done this and feel quite grateful and honored, indeed, to have been given the opportunity to serve.
Mike B1 recently asked me for a description of "our organization" towards assisting another group he is associated with, to form a similar group. While I was fumbling around trying to do this for him it occurred to me that you all might be interested in the comments of a "retiring Secretary" as to my observations of what we are all about.
Thus said, here is my letter to Mike:
The most surprising thing in the world to this compulsive administrator, organizer, and verrry commanding Commanding Officer (of yore) is that there is NO way to "define status of individual members vs. groups (solos vs. nests), representation, election of officers, annual meetings, etc.", as you have asked me to do... but I will try. <smiling>
We are simply the "loosest" organization imaginable... in fact it has been my happy observation that we are not an organization at all but what our Australian friends term "a mob". Our ONLY true purpose is to help our fellow alcoholics find the 12 Steps of recovery when and how they wish it. All that is required is the third tradition "desire to stop drinking" and to maintain the anonymity of our program. Our meetings are strictly confidential and you may choose who you wish to attend. Each nest is "autonomous" and free to choose their own membership. We in Washington (DCA) allow "Air Crew and Related Officials" while the Seattle (SEA) nest requires their members to be "Pilots".
Individuals, such as the "solos", are capable of assisting those airmen who contact them in achieving this purpose, one - on - one. Thus a "Nest" can be only one person... these "solos" regularly become "more than one" and weekly meetings evolve from them. We do not list ourselves in the local "Where and When's" but some Nests voluntarily report their "contact point" to the local District Offices for those seeking us. Our International Secretary can be reached through the GSO in New York. There are no formal "representatives". We attend conventions, other meetings, and annual events (such as "Pearl Harbor") on a purely voluntary basis.
Our "Officers" are a Secretary and an Alternate Secretary. The term of office is now 2 years (agreed upon this year... it was 3 years). The Alternate Secretary becomes Secretary at the end of each term and a new Alternate is elected at the Annual Convention on those years. It is the Secretary's choice as to how and where the "Treasurer's" function is to be done... sometimes the Alternate Secretary has been Treasurer, at other times the Secretary has chosen to have someone in his/her home nest perform that function. It is agreed upon at the Business Meeting as to how it will be done. Our only regular expense is the publishing of "The Bird Word" and we maintain "one year's operations balance" in an account the Treasurer independently arranges, the rest (sent in by the Nests at their own determination of amount) is sent to GSO.
At each Annual International Convention a "Business Meeting" is held. Items of interest are placed before the meeting as agenda items and a group-conscience is taken to determine a "course of action" (such as 'outreach' ideas to let the aviation community know how to reach us). When appropriate, the elections are held at the convention Business Meeting. The Editor of our "Bird Word" is a regular player in the communications function but is a pure volunteer and arranges his own relief or seeks help in doing so from the Secretary.
So, you see, Mike, it is ALL "Group conscience" driven at the International level and each nest is free to do as it chooses concerning membership. It has been my observation during my three years as Secretary (I was elected at the Atlanta Convention) that the "Mystery of AA" is what makes it work. I have had some ideas that I worked on to "cause to happen", fall completely flat (such as trying to get a Nest in Dallas started) and others "bear fruit" (such as getting us "known" to aviation magazines who have covered "our story" within the context of our traditions). In general, all that is necessary is to hold an AA meeting and for those members of THAT meeting to do a "group conscience" to agree on membership requirements... all of the guidance and "policy" for all our activity is in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. We stay in contact with GSO through their "Service to the Professional Community" desk and the current Secretary is listed in the World Directory as the point of contact.
It was nearly unbelievable to me that such an approach as this would have any chance at all to "help our fellow alcoholics find the 12 Steps of recovery when and how they wish it" but it does... and we are growing by leaps and bounds... all within the blessings of Alcoholics Anonymous.
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