For a PDF of this letter, click HERE

This goes to show that no matter how much you care, or how much you sacrifice, you cannot stop your executives from filing for bankruptcy, and there is no depth executives will not stoop to in order to get what they want from you. Some things are out of your hands, and pilots do not like to be told they cannot control things. Perhaps it is time for pilots to concern themselves with the their own welfare that of their fellow pilots and get this profession back on its feet.

You are asked to believe that this represents the final chapter in that long mess you found yourself in 2002, just as in 2003, you were told that it was the last chapter. A little “pulling together” would result in a “win together.”

They will hold Chapter 7 over you as they held Chapter 11 over you back in 2003. Play ball or they liquidate. That is what you will be told. You will play along because, as pilots, you cannot allow yourself to be the cause of failure. It goes against your DNA. They know this; it is why you were hired in the first place. Just one more sacrifice, and you will be shot out of a cannon to a career that will make it all worthwhile.

If you believe that, you deserve what you get.

There remains some doubt as to what negotiations surrounding AMR’s 1113 “term sheet” will yield, but it is a pretty safe bet that what management could not gain prior to November will be taken via the bankruptcy proceedings. It is what their peers have done since Lorenzo.

They could not get scope from you via the bargaining table, so they are now trying to get it via bankruptcy court. They do this because the laws allow them to do so. The law is this way because pilots refuse to stand up for themselves. Once you give up your scope, you are no longer needed. Giving up flying to get flying has not worked in 30 years, and it will not work now.

The pilots need to unify to get the law changed, to prevent airline executives from recruiting the various bankruptcy courts as labor negotiators.

You have a peculiar negotiating history. Of the past ten years, you have been negotiating for seven of them. The only two times AMR threatened Chapter 11 were the last two times pilot contract negotiations got to the critical stage. The time prior to that resulted in a PEB.

That means the last time you negotiated a contract with AMR, without some form of government coercion, was 1991. Where are your wages, as of now?


What annual level is the block hour count?


This “peace in our time” stance against management will get you the same thing it got Chamberlain. Remember, you had “peace in your time” back in 2003, and you paid about a billion dollars per year for that “peace.”

What do you have to show for it? A Section 1113 “term sheet.”

Wherever you are in the Kubler-Ross grieving process, you will eventually get to the “anger” phase. We hope the 1113 sheet ends the “denial” phase for most of you. The goal is to channel that anger into something positive for you.

That’s where we come in. We represent OPERATION ORANGE, which is a peaceful, political protest of the existing regulatory paradigm covering pilot labor in the commercial airline industry. We know that this process of betrayal, fraud, and bad-faith labor relations is going to continue until the laws enabling such behavior are changed.

Change the law – save your profession. Nothing else will.

Negotiations are not going to work until they take place in an environment where management does not have complete control. We need to get the laws changed, or we will continue down this road until the system catastrophically fails. Captain Sullenberger testified to this when he was in front of Congress in 2009.

Members, I attempt to speak accurately and plainly, so please do not think I exaggerate when I say that I do not know a single professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps.

I am worried that the airline piloting profession will not be able to continue to attract the best and the brightest. The current experience and skills of our country’s professional airline pilots come from investments made years ago when we were able to attract the ambitious, talented people who now frequently seek lucrative professional careers. That past investment was an indispensable element in our commercial aviation infrastructure, vital to safe air travel and our country’s economy and security. If we do not sufficiently value the airline piloting profession and future pilots are less experienced and less skilled, it logically follows that we will see negative consequences to the flying public – and to our country.

We don’t have the money to buy Congressional sympathy. It is very expensive and we can never match what the ATA can throw at Congressional campaigns. No, our solution is simpler and more effective:

Our purpose is to pass legislation dictating various minimums in pilot pay, scheduling, fatigue, labor protections, RLA amendments, and airline bankruptcy reform. We have our draft of the legislation on our website. Please take the time to read it. If passed, it would represent a tremendous lift of the entire piloting profession, and allow management to reorganize as much as they want, but the pilot contract would be largely left alone. It would also remove the ability for management to abuse the RLA during contract negotiations. There is only one viable means for pilots to get this kind of change in the priorities of the lawmakers, regulators, and airline managers:


Yes, we will piss-off everyone, but everyone who will be angry with us has feasted off our wallets and quality of life for three decades, without remorse.

Pilots want to be loved and admired, but this is not the venue for those needs. If it is love and admiration you seek, adopt a dog. Your fellow pilots and your family need you – not some faceless public or shallow-thinking talking head on the TV or radio.

The defeated among us will tell you that it is illegal. It most certainly is not. The FIRST AMENDMENT allows for us to peacefully assemble, without permit, for the purposes of petitioning the government for redress of grievances. A judge can’t enjoin that and Congress can‘t pass a law contrary to it. That same FIRST AMENDMENT also prohibits government from interfering with the dissemination of information. The THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT makes it so your absence from work isn’t construed as a crime.

What happens when you peacefully assemble outside of the aircraft for the purposes of petitioning Congress to change the laws? The airplanes stop and federal judges are powerless to stop the protest.

Previous injunctions, such as the one against the US Airways pilots (East), are because some pilots were engaging in work actions, in a fairly clumsy effort to exert pressure during contract negotiations. They never intended to change the law – only their contract. Your 1998 action was enjoined for the same reason – it was a contractual issue, not a political issue. Under such conditions, the RLA governs and judges will reliably enjoin activity to the contrary.

They are prohibited from enjoining the FIRST AMENDMENT.

We will schedule the SOS when we believe we have enough pilots to make it work, and the easiest way to show your support is to put orange duct tape on your airport luggage, and by telling 20 pilots to do likewise. We believe this move is the ATA accelerating their timeline for pilot concessions. We believe that the pilots at other large, network carriers will be told they must match American’s contract, lest they become less competitive.

American Airlines pilots are, for better or worse, in the leadership role in the future of the career. Whatever you do will determine where other pilot unions will eventually follow. SkyTeam and Star are no match for a large airline flying up to the FARs on C-scale wages, and many among those pilot associations know this to be the case.

American Airlines pilots can lead us into permanent concessions, or you can lead us into a new era of strong pilot labor, backed by law. Either way, you will lead us – that die is already cast. We just need to see what direction you will lead.

For those who may lose their jobs via outsourcing, AMR is worth more in Chapter 7 than in Chapter 11. They have absolutely nothing to lose – not one thing.

If you want to see where you stand before the courts, go to PBS FRONTLINE, and search for “Can You Afford To Retire?” View the chapter on the UAL bankruptcy. See what is called, “Judges First Day Orders.”

Their job is to loot the company and the employees, while at the same time keeping the employees motivated just enough to not strike. If you strike, they get nothing, and they know this. They want you to stay at work and build the scaffolding from which they will eventually hang you.

Every wheel you turn is another plank in that scaffolding.

By working “within the system,” you ensure that the system will survive to ensnare you again, and again, and again. If you wish to play by the rules, you throw yourself and your family on the mercy of a court that has been conditioned to see you as the problem.

No matter what Section 1113 does, you are never required by law to show for work. Section 1113 does not trump the FIRST AMENDMENT, just as the RLA does not. Whether or not you have the ability to strike at the rejection of your contract, or the unilateral imposition of one, is still a legal question that has not been definitively resolved. Our proposed legislative draft answers that question definitively.

Read the information available on Pass the information to your fellow pilots. Get your friends at UAL/CAL, DAL, SWA, UPS, FedEx, and US Airways “on board.”

The only way they can get you to concede is if they can deceive you into agreeing to your own demise. You have other options which, to the shame of ALPA and APA, have never been explored. The answer is right there in your high school civics class – THE FIRST AMENDMENT.

Nobody is promising anything easy, but if 5000-7000 of us refuse to move the aircraft, the remaining pilots will also be unable to move the aircraft. The system will be paralyzed and drastic measures will need to be taken to get it running again. Your sick leave can outlast the patience of their bond holders. A few of us can do a tremendous amount. If we are so important to the national economy, then perhaps it is time for compensation to reflect that priority.

Will you fight for what you have worked for during the past few decades, or will you opt for “peace in our time” and take whatever table scraps are left for you? Your choice is the choice of all of us, for better or worse.

Decision time is right around the corner. Let’s end this destructive cycle and put the profession back on its feet.

For more information, please visit


  1. A. A. ADAMS says:


  2. M says:

    I would like to know how I can help bring this profession back to what is once encompassed.
    I voted NO in 03.

    • Lobby your Congressman for change in the laws governing our profession. Call everyone you know at Delta and convince them they must join the effort.

      Delta is the only thing holding us back from moving this onto the next phase.

  3. E says:

    Please put me on your mailing list or petitions or whatever you need. Somehow, someway we need all the unions to lobby congress with the same effectiveness ALPA did with Age 65 to get the RLA changed or eliminated. There is no reason whatsoever that law can’t have a one year drop dead clause. I want to be at a least able to use our one weapon!
    Thanks for your work in these regards.
    (AA pilot)

    • Go orange.

      Print out the talking points.

      Tell 20 pilots.

      Write, call, fax, and visit your elected representitives. The list of the aviation subcommittee members is available under our “PHASE III” tab on the main menu.

      The battle needs to be won before we fire the first shot. This is how we do it.

      The SOS is only viable if preceded by an intense lobbying effort. THIS IS OUR TIME.

  4. M F says:

    I just read your letter on the website, and it is spot on. I will pass on the information to others in the hopes that we can restore some luster back into this defeated profession. Good luck.
    Captain Mike Funk
    American Airlines

    • Get the orange duct tape on your bags. Print out the “talking points” and pass them to 20 pilots. Go to the “Phase III” tab on our main menu, and write, fax, call, and visit your elected representitives.

      Logistics wins battles, not tactics.

  5. CAPT J says:

    I’m all for the shut down. Let’s get busy.

    • Many things are brewing. Please be ready to volunteer if called upon. The most important thing you can do at this time is to convince 20 pilots to think like you.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Both my husband and I are American Airlines pilots in Miami. I think you are right, the time is now.

  7. D L says:

    I am interested-

    • Great. Get orange duct tape, tell 20 pilots, and go to the “Phase III” tab on our main menu. Write, fax, call and visit your elected representitives.

      The battle is best won before the first shot is fired.

  8. T says:

    Loved your piece. I have been advocating something similar to my fellow pilots for quite some time.

    All we truly control in life are the choices that we make. When the Company dictates terms, we choose to accept the contract, or not. If a Federal Judge orders us to return to work, we choose whether or not to comply with that Order.

    We have Constitutional and God-given rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of association, and even to the right to withhold our services. We are NOT slaves. The RLA has been abused in an illegal and immoral fashion. Our biggest mistake at AA during the “sickout” was to return to work when the Judge told us to.

    I’m with you.

    • A federal judge isn’t going to toy with your FIRST AMENDMENT rights to peacefully assemble and petition Congress. What is the argument? The 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to those that are important to the national economy?

      If we can convince enough pilots that the RLA is not their UCMJ, we have a very good chance of fixing the law. As long as airline pilots continue to self-depricate, management is going to keep coming for the kill.

  9. S says:

    I’m in!

  10. Anonymous says:

    To Management, ” Don’t piss on my back and tell me its rain”

  11. Anonymous says:

    I agree. The question is: where is the threshold of pain and foolish sacrifice that must be reached before we unify as a focused group of professional pilots, where we are
    willing to take the appropriate action. We have been too patient, too complacent,
    for too long.

  12. Anonymous says:

    i am a f/a for AA. you have my full support behind you for all that’s worth to you. i think operation orange is well thought out and intelligent. i wish you the support and determination you will need. best of luck to us all.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Right on brother!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I couldn’t agree more!! I have been trying to make these points for years with my fellow pilots.

    Please keep me informed and put me on your email list. You have my unwavering support! And I will spread the word around.


    “K” DAL Captain
    Delta Air Lines

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am a IMA Purser at AA and I support our pilots 100% in this endeavor. As flight attendants we also need to help get the law changed. I have 22 years of experience with this company, I treat our pilots, flight attendants and passengers with tremendous respect, and this is the thanks that we all receive for a job well done. Hopefully all of our unions can join together to help change the law.

    “C” AAL F/A

  16. Tony says:

    Tape going on bag. But I need to see real organization as we move forward.

    • We are exploring many avenues to move this along. If you know anyone who would like to help his own future, please refer them to our contact information.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I’m ready to park the jets! enough is enough!!

  18. Anonymous says:

    We support you brothers,

    Got orange duck tape on my bags and passing it a long to others in Montréal.
    We have a similar fight on our hands…….

    If it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting for….They are destroying our lives!!!!!

    In solidarity

    “M” Air Canada F/O

  19. Scott mcCaskill says:

    Ben Franklin said it best: we hang together or surely we will hang separately…23years and the noose keeps getting tighter.

  20. susan matteson says:

    well, well, aa pilots, Where was all this chest thumping when you agreed to a b scale in 1983??? Just wondering???? Pull the lader up Joe, I got mine was how you were all thinking back then… screw all the junior guys…. Well look where you are now???
    Don’t turn another knob for your company…if you do, then you know what all those years of training mean… the company will hire the pilots for the lowest wage…but just a thought… would a senator or a congressman want to fly on a plane in a snowstorm out of dca with a pilot with minimum hrs???? just a thought??

    • B Scale and all the other failed attempts at management-labor peace were all fumbed by the various pilot associations. They still don’t get it. They still think they can negotiate their way to a viable career with an entity that has no intent on anything but total control.

      All they have done is provide hospice care for a dying profession.

      They need a much broader view of the situation, which is what OPERATION ORANGE is trying to present to them. As of now, they are still too cozy with the Washington interests, believing that their “relationships” with members of Congress and the FAA can be leveraged to recover from the excessive aft CG spin they find themselves.

      Had Senator Wellstone been on Continental 3407, perhaps Congress may pay attention, but we doubt it. When a New Mexico Senator died in a plane crash, several decades ago, they did respond.

      Nothing is going to change until the change is forced. As long as the planes keep moving, the interested powers are content to continue with their plan of full-outsourcing.


  22. RT says:

    For me, it’s this or I’m done. I have nothing more to lose. I can no longer subject my family to my absence, when I’m on a trip, or when I’m at home at my second job. This is ridiculous. Let’s shut it down right now. Orange duct tape going on my bag. How will I know what to do next?

    • The best thing you can do is to pass the word and talk up the cause. We are planning a rally in NYC and DC, where we hope to get a great turnout. Be prepared to volunteer for that effort.

    • Tell 20 pilots. Hammer away on your pilot association officials. Let them know they are only capable of slowing the inevitable unless they support legislation to counter what the A4A has done.

      The problem is legislative as is the solution.

  23. When? says:

    All we need is a date to PARKem. No posturing, no notice.

    You are wasting time and energy if you don’t set a date. How does NOW sound?

  24. M says:

    I haven’t worn a tie in a year as a personal protest of the hypocrisy by management to expect us to follow their contract when they continuously violate ours. I may put my tie back on(an orange one perhaps) and stand proud with you all!! No question I am ready to participate. I heard about this from another pilot… I will now tell the rest.

  25. S says:

    Count me in. I am tired of corp mgmt stealing from us. It is time to take a stand.

  26. Supporter says:

    We lost a good man last year when my father passed away.

    He was a Captain at CAL when Lorenzo bankrupt the airline, and after 25 years of proud service he walked away. He had the dignity, moral ethic and personal strength to leave the pilot slave trade that Lorenzo created at Continental. The only reason that the airline remains today is that they scared enough spineless worms into coming back to the cockpit. These pilots were self-centered, scared, pathetic weasels that in an emergency would have raced the passengers to the escape slide. Unfortunately these types of people still fly in our cockpits with us, and are the biggest hurdle to the success of Operation Orange.

    I learned a lot from my father, the biggest lesson being that you should never sell off your dignity for a buck. I miss him, and not a day goes by that I don’t try to be a least half the man he was. When the day comes to shut down this broken industry, I hope to be in the first wave.

  27. says:

    I’m. Everyone get the orange tape on your bag and when it’s time to walk, WE RUN!

  28. AWOL says:

    Ready and waiting. Orange tape in place

  29. AWOL says:

    A great general once said: “wait until you can see the whites on there eyes.”. We would have lost the revolution if we did not follow those simple instructions. So, everyone here get 20 friends (pilots) to agree to participate. When we have a critical mass, you’ll know when it’s time because everywhere you look you’ll be seeing Orange!

    • That’s the plan. Pilots can make a major move to save their profession by purchasing a $4 roll of orange duct tape at the local big-box hardware store.

      Will they?

      One stripe of orange says 1000 words.

  30. M says:

    orange ductape-novel idea and simple-I am not going to tell 20 people, I am going to tell a hundred! The quicker we tell every pilot we know the sooner we can take action.
    Thanks for getting the ball rolling! Do we all need to donate some cash to build up a decent defense team when the various airline execs seek injunctions and barriers to our activities because I know they are already aware of this website and seeking counsel on how to negate any of our actions by any “legal” means possible. Just a thought because I am 110 percent in!!!!!

    • If you want to tell 100, use this, and print it out on orange paper.

      If you are interested in donations, “The Committee” does not accept donations at this time. We can refer you to our “Rally Committee,” where they will certainly find use for whatever you can contribute to the cause of having a large rally in DC.

      Management is very aware of our site and goals. They are going to have to find a way to declare airline pilots exempt from the First Amendment, while at the same time, not jeopardizing their own access to Congressional influence. That’s going to be tricky, since the 45 words of the First Amendment don’t provide for it.

      The “First Amendment” route is well defended.

  31. M says:

    i see most “responses” made by people who are too afraid to even sign their name !

  32. W says:

    I have thought for the longest time that this was the only way we as a professional working group could effect any substantial change. We all must to stand together.

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