It's Ratings Season... So It's Time To Pick On GA
ANN has been monitoring
reports that an Orlando based, NBC affiliated, TV station is about
to drop the hammer on GA with yet another bit of sensationalism
concerning the supposed security risks of GA. Promos circulated
Tuesday night allegedly voiced concerns about dangers proffered by
Central Florida GA airports and may have equated the danger of GA
airplanes to be on a par with that of a cruise missile. The current
web site promo is (thankfully) a mite more restrained... "Tomorrow
at 11 p.m.: A WESH NewsChannel 2 Investigation reveals major
security problems at most of Central Florida's small airports."
We've been in communication with the station... who has promised
us that reporter Greg Fox (who is apparently the primary reporter
for this piece) would get back to us right away -- and we're still
waiting. Nobody else had the knowledge or the time to chat with us
about the story.
AOPA's Prez, Phil Boyer, tells us that he did grant an interview
to them in Lakeland (last month) and recited the appropriate facts
about the small size of GA aircraft and their "small payload/damage
capacity." How much of Boyer's interview will be used is anyone's
guess -- but we're not optimistic. AOPA tells us that the promo
department had promised to tone down their promos on Monday... but
the Tuesday renditions still sounded pretty sensational. AOPA did
extract a promise that the story will note the FACT that no GA
plane has ever been used in a terrorist act.
Still; AOPA expects the report to be "tough."
Discussions with the
producer (Travis Sherwin) indicated that possible features in the
piece will include shots of Airport Watch signs, the AOPA
program (done in cooperation with, and sanctioned by, the TSA)
described as a prime example of "industry and government
cooperation to address GA airport safety," by then TSA
Administrator James Loy.
There will also be references to the GAO 2003 study that
cited security concerns (without, so far, any more
recent info such as the inclusion of the TSA 'Top
5' list -- which doesn't mention GA). Other aspects will show at
least one person accessing airport and ENTERING
unlocked airplanes, without challenge. They also (allegedly) show
an empty police car being used as the "security system" at one
Duck and Cover, Folks...
Phil notes that in light of the ratings frenzy we're currently
undergoing, that AOPA is seeing "a rash of these stories of late.
AOPA is doing the best it can to get the GA side of the story told
- but often the reporter/producer goes in with a pre-conceived
We expect that the story may be available over the net via the
WESH web site some time after the piece appears at 2300, Wednesday.
Greg Fox's email is firstname.lastname@example.org. The
WESH web site is www.wesh.com. Cross your
fingers... this could be a tough one. We'll keep you updated...