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Tue, Nov 14, 2017

Barnstorming: Lessons to Be Learned

We Should Be So Much Better Than This…

News/Observations/Analysis by ANN CEO Jim Campbell

I’ve been putting off a number of things that I want to discuss as ANN, my staff, and my family tries to make a leap forward so that all our collective lives might be made better and so that we might have a far more positive effect on the future of the aviation world. I WILL get to all that in the coming days… I promise... because try as I might to find a way to relieve myself of the burdens I’ve taken on, I simply can not do anything less than try to be a part of cure to what ails the aviation world.  

Silly me.

But in the meantime, the events of the last few days are picking at me in a most uncomfortable way.

We lost a member of the aviation family last week… and while that has become far too familiar an occurrence in this world; this time, the effects are likely to be felt long and aggressively for some time to come because it occurred to a person well-known and much beloved outside the aviation world.

And while anything happening to an Icon Aircraft product is likely to be associated with the intense problems and negativity that have followed this poorly run company, there is a larger issue that needs to be discussed first… and I’m more than familiar with the tragic consequences of a high-profile aviation accident.

Let’s break things down right from the start… no matter what has been posted, no matter what video may have been seen, and no matter what aero-ignorant witnesses and instant experts might declare, we do not yet know what happened to Pilot Roy Halladay when he was out doing what most of us would be doing if we had the time… to go out and fly, enjoy the skies, and have some fun with one’s own airplane. We can NOT (and should not) blame anything or anyone for the actual accident, as yet, since far more expert parties will come together to do just that when opportunity and evidence allows.

However; the rumor mill has gone nuts. The general media has gone nuts. The instant experts have been relentless. The aviation community is in for another series of black eyes and most important, an innocent family has to undertake the grieving process under the vicious glare of an ignorant media and hundreds of aero-ignorant self-appointed accident investigators that are making foolish statements that make us all look like idiots. ANN did a number of interviews with media entities that seemed to be respectful of the story… but we refused to name a cause, and talked instead about the wonderful family that we flyers have become, noting again and again that there will be plenty of time for the real experts to answer media questions when the evidence has been fully evaluated -- but our careful and highly self-restricted efforts were a drop in the bucket, and I'm not sure they will have the desired effect.

What I do know is this… a fairly notable man who waited for much of his life to undertake a love for flight, unfortunately perished while doing something he loved. His family got a god-awful call last week… a kind of call I know only too well (mine happened nearly a decade ago and painfully haunts me to this day). There is nothing we can do to make it better for them, per se… but there are many ways in which the unfeeling can compound their emotional injuries -- and we’re watching that happen each day since.

The awful comments… the instant experts... the counter-productive accusations… these have no place in the aviation world... we’re better than that and if we truly aren’t, we damned well should be.

Don’t forget… The aviation community lost one of its own—Roy Halladay was one of us. We need to say that, we need to hold back suspicions and guess work, we need to offer our prayers and condolences for his family, we need to emphasize that we all try to be as safe as we can, we need to mourn the loss of a man who loved aviation and could have done so much for us all, and we should wait until the proper experts release a probable cause and LEARN all we can so that such tragedies may be minimized in the future.

BUT… most of all, we really need to just stand back… we need to wait, we need to try to bring some dignity to our industry and the processes that surround such accidents… and not come off like know-it-alls long before the facts are in.

In the meantime, we still need to be safe, teach safety/good judgment, and simply resign ourselves to the awful truth that sometimes, bad things happen to good people, especially when gravity remains so unrelenting. And we need to somehow let Mr. Halladay’s family know that we mourn their loss, that for as short as it was, Roy was a member of our collective family… and that we all will keep this family in our hearts and prayers.

There will be a time to examine all this… there will be a time to look closer at the many faults of Icon Aircraft, to see what might have been done differently to avoid such horrible accidents, and there will be a time to take all the lessons we might learn and build a safer industry and community, as a result.

But… now is not that time. As one who has received ‘that call’ -- all I can think of is the pain to be borne by Roy Halladay’s family and our sincere desire to offer all our prayers and best wishes as they learn to heal.



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