Editors Note:

EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Four Lost in Phoenix

A torrent of data is now flowing over the Phoenix chopper collision...

From touching tributes on KTVK's and KNXV's sites to tough questions being posed at industry watering holes, to valid yet screeching I-told-you-so's, everyone in the news community is asking how this could have happened, why it hasn't happened before now and what can be done to prevent it from ever happening again. Many issues are suddenly on the table - from the demands on pilots acting as their oen on-camera narrators to the wisdom behind pursuing meaningless police chases in the first place. For now however, let us remember the fallen...

Considered 'a master at collecting pictures', Jim Cox grew up the son of a military pilot. He apparently inherited that love of flight, for he savored the rush of shooting video from the air. A native New Yorker. the thirty seven year old was known for easygoing enthusiam. Lately, he'd been pursuing the idea of becoming a helicopter pilot himself. News Director Phil Alvidrez: "He had an eye for photography, he had a love for journalism, and he was one of the guys in the newsroom who was always up for a news story. You couldn't have enough Jim Coxes." Bio Condolences

Scott Bowerbank was a pilot's pilot. A versatile flier who's cockpit responsibilities included much more than local newsgathering, he flew corporate clientele and sightessing tours. Above all, the 42 year old was known as a safety-conscious pilot - one who knew all too well the unforgiving nature of flight. For his TV work, Bowerbank had mastered the equally unnatural act of appearing on camera. But it was his prowess in ther pilot's seat that most colleagues knew him for. "This guy could fly with his knees," said anchor Scott Pasmore. Bio Condolences

A father of three and grandfather of one, Rick Krolak was the quintessential veteran photog. Quick witted and curmudgeonly, the Phoenix native spent nineteen years covering his home region for two different stations. One cannot gather news in one place for that long without becoming a walking expert on all things local, and Rick was no exception. His reputation among his peers was sterling, known for his real-world mentoring, award winning photojournalism and endless supply of one-liners. Bio Condolences

An experienced pilot who often flew with his terrier Molly riding shotgun, Craig Smith was a seasoned aviator and a whole lot more. He started his career flying medical evacuation helicopters, but transitioned into pilot-reporting in his native Detroit befor relocating to Phoenix's ABC15 two years ago. When not earning a reputation for safety in the air, the 40-something batchelor played guitar and trumpet for his band Crosstown Traffic - often performing at gigs that benefited area hospitals and other charity groups. Bio Condolences

As different from each other as all four men were, they represent a cross-section of the hard-charging individualists that make TV news an exciting place to spend your day. Whatever findings come from the FAA's now-active investigation, nothing can sully the fact that - tragically - these seasoned professionals went out on top. That's enough to earn my respect.


in-gun-ear said...

As someone who likes to fly and fly in small aircraft and who is a member of a national airborne civilian search and rescue organization that has a better safety record than general aviation, the FIRST thing they teach us is, no matter what your position is on the flight crew, pilot, observer, scanner, etc, THE PILOT DRIVES THE AIRCRAFT. PERIOD. NOTHING ELSE. Or as Goose told Maverick in Top Gun, "come Mav, do some of that pilot shit." In our organization, if something doesn't look safe, you shut the activity down for safety. If a station can't live with that, then they don't need a chopper. Look at what a crash of this magnitude does.

I know it is a rush to have the pilot as the "star" but for the safety of not only the flight crew, but people on the ground, (you know, YOUR VIEWERS?) the pilot needs to to keep his eyes and ears on the outside of the aircraft watching in 3D mode in all THREE axis' and listening to the other aircraft in his immediate area, not playing instant hairdo on TV and watching just the action on the ground. A helicopter is the hardest general aviation aircraft to fly, the pilot doesn't need to be distracted describing the action of a running suspect on the ground.

I don't blame these fine pilots for being in the situation they found themselves in, it is the industry mentality. From my experiences with non aviation people of all stripes, they just don't know what is really at risk when you are up in the air. The pilots make it look so easy, but it ain't. Don't make their job that much harder.

If a station is so money conscience, then have the shooter be the reporter and let the pilot be the pilot if you don't want to repeat Black Friday in Phoenix.

My opinion and strong recommendation.

Florian said...

You say it so well. Lets do the after action elsewhere and remember who we have lost.

Anonymous said...

Very fitting comments, makes me proud. Keep it up...crookedpaw