Thursday, October 23, 2008

...and Pilots

I was working at St. Mary's yesterday when the report came in of the mid-air collision between two small planes over Whitewater, with one plane making it back to GJT and the other going down somewhere in the Kannah Creek area.

The operator that handles CareFlight operations got the helicopter headed that way, and I logged into the local online scanner to listen to the other public safety traffic. This was a decidedly unique incident that involved both the urban and rural response community. From the sound of what I heard, everything was well-coordinated and effectively communicated across those intangible boundaries that the City and County sometimes build around themselves.

The people aboard the two aircraft are extraordinarily fortunate. God was looking down upon them and said 'it's not your time". For me there's no other plausible explanation, other than the extreme skill of the two pilots involved to navigate their damaged craft safely to the ground.

I'll keep an eye on the NTSB accident reports site for additional information (this is very interesting reading for folks so inclined), as I'm sure the local media will.

Speaking of the local media, they should be commended for providing comprehensive and informative coverage of the incident, which was made even more newsworthy by the act that one of the involved aircraft belonged to the Sheriff's Department, and was doing a prisoner transport.

The broadcast side seemed to present their visuals with factual information that eschewed sensationalism. The print side did what they should do, and that's dig into the story further. The Sentinel coverage focused on eyewitness accounts and issues related to air traffic control.

The Free Press highlighted their reporting with analysis of the costs associated with transporting prisoners by air, and the preliminary activities of the investigators. I was particularly interested in the reported candor of the NTSB investigator about some of the difficulties he was encountering in doing some interviews.

This is the third big event in the valley this week to attract national media attention. Let's hope this doesn't become a trend. In the meantime, we're very thankful that everyone is safe and unhurt.

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