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Location: Sitting inside a TV truck, Somewhere, more then likely in the Southeastern region, United States

I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Police chase and chopper crash

Friday brought a tragic end to a police chase. But unlike most tragically ended chases, the people killed were not hit by the fleeing vehicle. Helicopters belonging to KPNX and KTVK covering the chase collided in midair bringing both down in fiery crashes. There were two people in each chopper, all four people were killed on impact.

At the post chase press conference, the Chief of Police Jack Harris said he would pursue charges in the helicopter accident against the person the police were chasing.

I have a problem with that. Some of what we do in news gathering is risky. Driving toward an area that is being evacuated is just one example of the risks we take. We all accept that risk when we accept the job.

Flying in helicopters is also risky. My father introduced me to concept of helicopters with the words, "From the moment a helicopter takes off to the moment it lands, it is going to try to kill you. As pilot, your job is to keep it from accomplishing that goal."

As tricky as helicopters are, in this case there is only one possibility for the cause of the crash. One or both pilots failed to pay enough attention to where they were flying. The military phrase is "Situational Awareness."

Charging the fleeing suspect in a midair collision and crash is more then a stretch. It is a joke. As tragic as this event is, there is no criminal intent here. It was an accident. If the police chief wants to charge someone he should start with myself and everyone like me that watch those chases with rapt attention on television.

Rest in peace Jim, Scott, Craig and Rick. You left us too soon. May the people you behind heal quickly.


A helicopter does not want to fly. It is maintained in the air by a variety of forces and controls working in opposition to each other. And if there is any disturbance in this delicate balance the helicopter stops flying immediately and disastrously.
- Harry Reasoner

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