"This may be the end of this thing..."
July 27, 2007 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Two news helicopters met in a deadly midair collision today while covering a police chase on live television (video, tragic but not graphic).
posted by hermitosis (107 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The KPHO story on the accident says "Police said the man could be held accountable for the deaths," referring to the guy who was being chased. It's a horrible accident, to be sure, and the guy is clearly responsible for other crimes, but trying to blame him for the crash would be ridiculous.
posted by cerebus19 at 2:48 PM on July 27, 2007


LOLLOCALNEWZ
posted by quonsar at 2:52 PM on July 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


...but trying to blame him for the crash would be ridiculous.
Agreed.
That said, I would lay even-money that they will attach the deaths to his charges and successfully prosecute.
'Cause that's just the way things go in the US these days.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:53 PM on July 27, 2007


Kind of Fark-y post, no?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:54 PM on July 27, 2007


Is it? I don't know, I'm from Arizona, it struck a chord with me.
posted by hermitosis at 2:56 PM on July 27, 2007


"it was a slow news day so we drove around until we ran into someone"

Is a (paraphrased) caption from some comic or another (I think by Andy Singer) that I've had in the back of my head over the years in various circumstances, but this just takes the cake.

not belittling the crash victims
posted by edgeways at 2:58 PM on July 27, 2007


The whole "LOL...Z" overuse reminds be a lot of the ole "dittohead" thing.
posted by edgeways at 2:59 PM on July 27, 2007


Sorry to go against the current vibe, but I think this is really sad.
posted by CCK at 3:01 PM on July 27, 2007


it struck a chord with me.

a diminished seventh, but a chord none the less.
posted by quonsar at 3:03 PM on July 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Very sad for those people and their families, but I freakin' hate those noisy ambulance-chasing news copters. It'd be lovely if they were all grounded forever in the wake of this mishap.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:04 PM on July 27, 2007


The video is like a snuff film without the money shot.
posted by Nelson at 3:04 PM on July 27, 2007


Something about the woman's face as they end the segment, the vacancy with which she repeats that they don't know what's going on, gives me chills and makes me hope she has a valium or something to help get her through the night.
posted by hermitosis at 3:06 PM on July 27, 2007


I can't be the only one to feel conflicted about this. It's clearly a tragedy with no intrinsic humorous element whatsoever, but I can't help imagining the crash as it would happen as a joke on the Simpsons (in the background of a live on-location report by Kent Brockman), parodying just the type of meaningless, inane non-news these choppers were out there to capture.
posted by lifeless at 3:07 PM on July 27, 2007


That was a totally bizarre Slavoj Zizek kind of moment there. The power class was buzzing around in the sky, watching the ruination of someone's life way down below - making buckets of cash by broadcasting someone else's tragedy, then - WHAM - the real bursts into their own life, they become the live tragedy - but we're still viewing the whole thing through the lens of a t.v. camera. How tragic and fascinating.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:07 PM on July 27, 2007 [30 favorites]


So let me get this straight, right and left jurisdictions are banning talking on your cell phone while driving, but it's somehow safe to be a "pilot-reporter"?
posted by donovan at 3:07 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hunh, I've always been leery of newscopters mainly because in situations like this I figured they would pose a distraction or risk to the police choppers.

MetaFilter: Tragic, but not graphic
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:09 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a horrible accident, to be sure, and the guy is clearly responsible for other crimes, but trying to blame him for the crash would be ridiculous.

Yeah, it's ridiculous, but it's been done before. I can't find the text of the case online, just little summaries and notes. Maybe this guy can hope that the fact that these were news helicopters instead of police will make a difference.
posted by dilettante at 3:09 PM on July 27, 2007


but I can't help imagining the crash as it would happen as a joke on the Simpsons

And it was actually a joke on the Simpsons... the traffic jam that Artie Pie (in the sky) is reporting on is caused by the crash of the helicopter he was in.
posted by smackfu at 3:14 PM on July 27, 2007


It'd be lovely if they were all grounded forever in the wake of this mishap.

Indeed. Four totally needless funerals. Do we really need this much infotainment? And yet, I don't think we've ever had two newsbirds collide like this before, and ever since the OJ chase, I wonder at that.
posted by pax digita at 3:15 PM on July 27, 2007


Huh. I always assumed there were three people on those helicopters: a pilot, a reporter, and a cameraman. I never would have guessed that the pilot was the reporter.
posted by stopgap at 3:22 PM on July 27, 2007


"Within a minute, other stations with helicopters in the area began reporting news of the crash."

And then two of those choppers crashed, and so on, and so on...
posted by stargell at 3:24 PM on July 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


That was a totally bizarre Slavoj Zizek kind of moment there. The power class was buzzing around in the sky, watching the ruination of someone's life way down below - making buckets of cash by broadcasting someone else's tragedy,

This is the dumbest metafilter comment that has ever been posted.

The power class? Small market helicopter pilot/reporters are generally owner/operator small businessmen who net far less than computer programmers. Nobody in small commercial aircraft on local TV makes handfuls of cash, much less buckets.

As far as their imperial godlike overview of someone else's ruination and tragedy, the guy is running from the cops and committing grand theft auto on camera. We're not talking Kafka here.

And as far as fucking Slavoj Žižek (seriously? I mean, seriously?), I bet he would spit on you for suggesting he'd nod approvingly at the hapless accidental death of four innocent middle class people trying to earn a living.
posted by felix at 3:24 PM on July 27, 2007 [14 favorites]


Maybe this guy can hope that the fact that these were news helicopters instead of police will make a difference.

Generally when in a car chase, if the suspect uses his car in such a way that puts an officer's life at risk (crashing in the side of a squad, etc) they will tack on a bunch of extra charges like 'attempted homicide' and 'assaulting a police officer' because in a worst case scenario, an action like that could lead to the death or injury of someone in the squad-car.

But here, the suspect had absolutely no interaction with the choppers and it would absurd to implicate him in this disaster.

And like was said above, please let this be a wake up call which causes stations to not do this kind of reporting anymore. Nothing is gained from reporting on high speed chases other than titillation. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that by constantly showing these, we are just adding to the problem by encouraging copy-cats.
posted by quin at 3:28 PM on July 27, 2007


Wait, the pilot is the one doing the reporting? Wow.

I feel for these people's families.

And it seems like such a stupid way to die -- covering a nothing, banal police chase. But then again, most ways we die are banal.

And no, not in any sane universe should the crook be charged with the deaths of these reporters, sad as the are.
posted by teece at 3:30 PM on July 27, 2007


Every time I see a stupid live car chase on the news, and I see other helicopters swooping in and out of frame, I always turn the channel. I never cared for watching live car chases anyway, but I always knew something like this was bound to happen.

It's such an idiotic ratings-grab. The suspect usually isn't OJ or anything that would normally get more than a mention for 10 seconds before a commercial, but the news channels appeal to our sense of wanting to see the conclusion to the chase. This trend has been going on too long, and I sincerely hope we have seen the end of it, but I am not that naive. This is just stupid, senseless, and tragic, and has nothing to do with serving the public interest.
posted by The Deej at 3:31 PM on July 27, 2007


'Bout fifteen years ago, an old church here in St. Louis caught fire - lightning strike. The fire department got it under control pretty quick, but then the news copters descended. Within minutes the propwash stoked the fire, and the whole roof *poof* was ablaze.
posted by notsnot at 3:33 PM on July 27, 2007


they've been confusing serving the public interest and serving up what the public is interested in for years.
posted by quonsar at 3:35 PM on July 27, 2007 [18 favorites]


Yeah, it's ridiculous, but it's been done before... Maybe this guy can hope that the fact that these were news helicopters instead of police will make a difference.

I don't think Acosta was necessarily wrong, but I think the distinction between news and police helicopters is a good one. A fleeing criminal has to expect that the police will pursue him, and the more recklessly he flees, the more dangerous the pursuit will be. News helicopters have much less of a duty to the public to follow the chase no matter what, though.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 3:42 PM on July 27, 2007


This sucks, but I'm very glad that there were not more innocent casualties. This could have been MUCH worse.
posted by snsranch at 3:43 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I quit watching local news a long time ago because they became daffy for super-explicit graphics and needlessly specific descriptions of horrible acts.

I consume news in order to be informed, not further disgusted by the depths our species will go to for attention and/or satisfaction.

That said, I have mixed feelings about this.

I'm sad for the deceased. I'm sad for their families. I wish someone had used some good judgment at some point to prevent such a tragedy.

I'm also hoping it leads to less of this kind of "content" on the news, but recognise how futile that hope is even as I type it.

If it bleeds, speeds, or inspires screeds, it leads. Or something like that.
posted by batmonkey at 3:43 PM on July 27, 2007


I'm surprised this stuff doesn't happen more often, especially in L.A.

four innocent middle class people trying to earn a living

Eh? Innocent, yes. Condolences to their families. But teachers? Firefighters? Cops? The chopper pilots/"news" reporters really weren't serving much of any purpose other than to titillate. And that's fine. But this sort of reportage is hardly what I'd call a "contribution to society."

Still sad though. Those two choppers had to fall down too, didn't they? I didn't read as to any casualties from a resultant ground crash and explosion. Hope everyone was safe after the initial collision.
posted by bardic at 3:55 PM on July 27, 2007


it's somehow safe to be a "pilot-reporter"?

Aren't there always two or three guys in those traffic copters?

1) pilot
2) talking head
3) cameraman (when applicable)

I can't imagine one guy flying the copter while talking live on the radio or TV. That'd be just ed up wit dah stoopidz.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:09 PM on July 27, 2007


From the article linked in the first comment: "KNXV-TV identified the people aboard its chopper as reporter-pilot Craig Smith and photographer Rick Krolak."
posted by donovan at 4:16 PM on July 27, 2007


The two choppers came down on the grass lawn in front of a boarded up church at the park, site of an old Indian school.

Poltergeist-esque.
posted by iamck at 4:19 PM on July 27, 2007


This happens every few years for some cause or other.

Please, please, a moratorium on helicopters covering police chases. It seems to be a west coast thing, but it's spreading across the land now.

Stupid motherfuckers.
posted by spitbull at 4:28 PM on July 27, 2007


Because you know if the suspect had, like, died or anything in his attempt to escape the news would be all giddy about it. And having the footage would be gravy.

Not so funny when it's someone you care about.
posted by spitbull at 4:29 PM on July 27, 2007


And I'm sorry, but the "pilot reporter" who took his mind off air safety for even a second to talk about the scene on the ground is responsible for these deaths, not the criminal. The news reporters were under no compulsion to follow the suspect, nor to hover over the scene. And the first rule of flying is to keep your mind on the main job.

"Pilot/reporter" is a crazy idea. Stupid. Idiotic. Foolish. And dangerous. It's like a "surgeon/comedian." Only not as funny.
posted by spitbull at 4:32 PM on July 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


Hey look, a crash video!

But if you want to get your fill of this sort of thing go here. It should cure fairly soon, unless your some sort of sicko. You're not some sort of sicko, are you?
posted by Burhanistan at 4:36 PM on July 27, 2007


Flying a helo is a full-time job. If the pilots were doing anything in addition to flying the craft, there's something seriously wrong. The implication of "Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association in Washington, D.C." is that the pilots were "pilot-journalists." In which case Barbara Cochran's employers need to go to jail.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 4:37 PM on July 27, 2007


Oh, geez.
posted by bwg at 4:42 PM on July 27, 2007


just imagine if mechanix illustrated had been right and we all had personal helicopters. rush hour would be bloody carnage raining from the skies.
posted by quonsar at 4:54 PM on July 27, 2007


Tad Friend did an excellent piece in the New Yorker a while back about televised police chases. Here's the abstract.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:56 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Eh? Innocent, yes. Condolences to their families. But teachers? Firefighters? Cops? The chopper pilots/"news" reporters really weren't serving much of any purpose other than to titillate. And that's fine. But this sort of reportage is hardly what I'd call a "contribution to society."

He didn't say anything about contributions to society.
posted by Snyder at 5:03 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


So let me get this straight, right and left jurisdictions are banning talking on your cell phone while driving, but it's somehow safe to be a "pilot-reporter"?

Hey the police here in Phoenix all use laptops while they are driving. Oh, wait that makes the cell phone argument sound stupid. Fucking nanny state.
posted by Mr_Zero at 5:09 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


"This is the dumbest metafilter comment that has ever been posted."

YES! I WIN!

/retires.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:12 PM on July 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


Stupid motherfuckers.
I have never understood why these choppers can be allowed to swarm around like flies on shit.
Seems to defy all laws of air traffic safety.
posted by Joeforking at 5:25 PM on July 27, 2007


The news reporters were under no compulsion to follow the suspect, nor to hover over the scene. And the first rule of flying is to keep your mind on the main job.

I worked for the CBS O&O in Philadelphia and all four major stations have a chopper.

None of them use a reporter in the sky (it's just a photog and the pilot) for fear of something like this occurring.
posted by wfc123 at 5:31 PM on July 27, 2007


seriously, though -

felix writes: This is the dumbest metafilter comment that has ever been posted.

The power class? Small market helicopter pilot/reporters are generally owner/operator small businessmen who net far less than computer programmers. ...And as far as fucking Slavoj Žižek (seriously? I mean, seriously?), I bet he would spit on you for suggesting he'd nod approvingly at the hapless accidental death of four innocent middle class people trying to earn a living.


I'm sorry to have offended you, but you're wrong. They are certainly not small businessmen - they used to be contracted by media organization but today are wholly owned subsidiaries of the media corporations who also own "local news" stations. Regardless, this has nothing to do with my original point - I was referring to the slack-jawed patricians sitting on their couches at home - people who have never had to deal with the police for anything more serious than a minor traffic violation. This apparently includes you. There are many valid reasons for running from the police.

And Slavoj Zizek (also, nice use of your character map) would probably spit on me for a great number of things, the least of which probably being my antipathy for so called "middle class" individuals.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 5:33 PM on July 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


Aren't there always two or three guys in those traffic copters?
1) pilot
2) talking head
3) cameraman (when applicable)


For a "breaking news" situation it's the pilot and the photog.
posted by Tim McDonough at 5:37 PM on July 27, 2007


Arrgh - and you have to watch a buy.com ad before you can watch the video in the first link now. unfuckingreal.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 5:39 PM on July 27, 2007


Baby_Balrog, that last link didn't make any sense. I don't mean it made assertions I thought were nonsensical, I mean I couldn't even figure out what it was asserting. Can you paraphrase?
posted by everichon at 5:46 PM on July 27, 2007


You know, that OJ car chase thing was pretty damn cool when it was happening.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:49 PM on July 27, 2007


Apparently "keep your eyes on the road" is bad advice in a helicopter...
posted by Tube at 5:56 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are many valid reasons for running from the police

?
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:57 PM on July 27, 2007


everichon, felix tried to foist Zizek as some sort of defender of the middle-class. Zizek says (and I'm paraphrasing - after heavy drinking) -

The only class that views itself as a class is the middle-class - though it is not really a class at all. The middle class claims to be hard-working, patriotic and moralistic - but only in contrast to the detached, soulless corporations on one side and the ghettos on the other. The middle class bases their identity on their distinction from these two other entities and it is this that gives us 'class warfare' at its purest. The lie that sustains the supposed existence of the middle class is the love-affair we have with the idea that the extreme right and extreme left somehow intersect somewhere - it expels the extreme left and the extreme right out into the stratosphere where they can safely be dismissed (even though they represent multinational corporations and the poor) and it falsely positions itself as the neutral ground of society.

ahhhh i'm going to hell for doing that to zizek.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:01 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Heywood Mogroot: Sometimes it's ok to run from the police.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:10 PM on July 27, 2007


actually that last link is kind of a mind-fuck - it shows fox news reporters getting beat up by cops.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 6:11 PM on July 27, 2007


"There are many valid reasons for running from the police"

"?"


LEGITMATE REASONS FOR RUNNING FROM THE POLICE
1. You're running a marathon.
2. You're jogging for exercise.
3. The police happen to be going in the opposite direction.
4. Your dog just spotted a cute doberman, and the cops just spotted a jelly donut.
5. Sting is accosting you about another reunion tour *shiver*
6. You find yourself in an old Keystone Cops picture.
7. You discover all the cops have become zombies.
8. They're carrying boots for Jerry's Kids (no wait that's firemen)
9. They want you to play a friendly game of freeze tag.
10. You mistakenly thought they were hoodlums dressed up as policemen.
11. For some reason these particular policemen are wearing their underwear outside their pants and that's creeping you out.
12. You have a legitimate phobia of crewcuts.
13. You have a legitimate phobia of guns (holstered or not).
14. You rationally conclude that if policemen are congregating, it means crime recently happened in that area, so moving away from said area as quickly as possible lessens the odds that crime might happen to you next.
15. You've recently eaten large quantities of sugar and are in the mood for a sprint.
16. You're bored.
17. You suddenly remembered you have to be somewhere.
18. Your bladder reminded you of its existence suddenly.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:37 PM on July 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


19. You're a fox news reporter.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:39 PM on July 27, 2007


20. You're a hippy, it's the seventies, and they have tear gas.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:41 PM on July 27, 2007


After my brother, an Apache helicopter pilot, came home from Iraq and our mom was out of earshot, he told me he almost got pasted waaay more times by near mid-air collisions than by people on the ground shooting at him actively trying to kill him.

And this wasn't by people doing evasive manuevers to avoid ground fire. This was by people who weren't flying at the right altitude and who weren't paying attention to the those flying around them.

I've seen news helicopters in the double digits circling over news stories before. I'm surprised this doesn't happen more often, honestly.
posted by Cyrano at 6:48 PM on July 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was referring to the slack-jawed patricians sitting on their couches at home - people who have never had to deal with the police for anything more serious than a minor traffic violation. This apparently includes you.

And this dosen't apply to you? Your straw-man is just as applicable.
posted by Snyder at 6:49 PM on July 27, 2007


21. You live in Kenner, LA where the police run both the used car ring and the drug trade.
posted by localroger at 6:52 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


21. You're from Guinea and you have a dark wallet
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 6:53 PM on July 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


So, after expending all of that effort and forgoing safety concerns in order to capture that vital big story about a dangerous high speed chase, did either of channel 3 or 15 show the footage at 11? Did they include it in the upfronts at the 10:30 commercial break?
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:54 PM on July 27, 2007


s/used/stolen duh
posted by localroger at 6:55 PM on July 27, 2007


(I forgot, the west coast has later timezones. Still, I wonder if they'll include it in the broadcast this evening.)
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:58 PM on July 27, 2007


Snyder, not that it's any of your business - but no. I'm a Christian. We make good business of getting arrested by cops. At least, some of us do. And I haven't qualified as "middle class" since I was twelve.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:04 PM on July 27, 2007


This story was already everywhere. Is Mefi the place for breaking news stories that are already everywhere else? There was no need to breathlessly run in and gasp "Didja hear what happened to the news helicopters?!!
posted by longsleeves at 7:05 PM on July 27, 2007


Well, it wasn't "everywhere" at the time I posted it. At least not to the extent that it is now.

And frankly, considering the deliberately careful wording and respectful tone of my post, I think you owe me an apology for that characterization.
posted by hermitosis at 7:11 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sorry. Rush to judgement on my part, I guess.
posted by longsleeves at 7:17 PM on July 27, 2007


Baby_Balrog: So you're skipping that whole "judge not, lest ye shall be judged," thing?
posted by Snyder at 7:23 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


From CNN:

The police chief said the suspect will likely face criminal charges for the deaths in the helicopter crash.

"I think he will be held responsible for any of the deaths from this tragedy," Harris said.


How is this reasonable? Or even possible?

If I'm doing something stupid, and you climb up on your roof to watch, then fall and hurt/kill yourself, isn't that your fault, not mine? Or is my logic skewed?
posted by geckoinpdx at 7:30 PM on July 27, 2007


Is Mefi the place for breaking news stories that are already everywhere else?

Depends on the story. News helicopters crashing, yes. Drunk starlets getting arrested/released from jail, yes. Constitutional crisis resulting the the possible collapse of our system of government, no.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:38 PM on July 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


...but trying to blame him for the crash would be ridiculous.

Agreed. In other news, this is ridiculous:

20-Jul-2007 -- Jury Convicts Suspect [of Second Degree Murder] In Highway Patrolman's Death
...Trooper Tatoian was driving on Interstate 44 to the scene were police were looking for Stallman, a wooded area in Gasconade County. As he drove with his lights and siren on, he came over a hill near Pacific, and slammed into a tractor trailer. Trooper Tatoian was killed.
Hurray for ridiculous precident.
posted by LordSludge at 7:57 PM on July 27, 2007


Baby_Balrog: So you're skipping that whole "judge not, lest ye shall be judged," thing?

Snyder: eat shit, lest ye be eaten
posted by quonsar at 8:47 PM on July 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I cannot stop laughing.
posted by telstar at 9:04 PM on July 27, 2007


Perhaps reporters will start adopting the Les Nessman technique for compensating for a lack of a news chopper: beating on his chest during radio broadcasts to simulate the sound.
posted by orange swan at 9:09 PM on July 27, 2007


It's such an idiotic ratings-grab.

There's the line that Lee Harvey Oswald got shot on live television, and networks have been afraid to break away from live events since. The corollary is that since the OJ slow-motion chase, every network

You had at least four helicopters from four networks covering a damn car chase, because you can't let 'the competition' get the scoop, even though it's not a scoop. It's raw footage for 'Most Dangerous Car Chases 2007'.

Oh, and let's not forget that the national cable news channels feel compelled to break into daytime coverage for copter-news from their affiliates.

These things are not news. But they are watched in the hope that they become news when someone dies. Except you can't say that, can you? You have to act all shocked when you're anchoring live coverage and the trailed car piles into a head-on or mows down a bunch of kids. Well, the viewers got what the coverage always dangles in front of them.

You want to implicate someone else for the accident? Stick a few network affiliate bosses in the dock.
posted by holgate at 9:14 PM on July 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oops: since OJ, every network affiliate treats a car chase like a gift from the gods.
posted by holgate at 9:15 PM on July 27, 2007


I really really wanted to post that Simpsons video where Artie yells at Kent, but this is just sad.

Oops.
posted by dhammond at 9:15 PM on July 27, 2007


When's MY right time, Kent? When's MY right time?!?
Dammit, dhammond.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:25 PM on July 27, 2007


This is why we can't have nice things flying cars.
posted by niles at 9:41 PM on July 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


Flying a helo is a full-time job. If the pilots were doing anything in addition to flying the craft, there's something seriously wrong.

This is the most astute comment I've seen on here. It's interesting that all flight training emphasizes minimizing distractions and FLYING the aircraft. Yet in this instance the parties are billed as "pilot-reporter" and "cameraman".

Interestingly back on the 4th there was a fireworks display in one of the Dallas suburbs, and a helicopter and plane were orbiting the display in opposite directions at nearly the same altitude, clearly operating VFR in the dark and distracted by the display.

I think the FAA takes some blame here for not instituting procedures for loitering and orbiting, ESPECIALLY in controlled airspace, e.g. requiring the pilots to get on UNICOM and arrange their own altitude separation. I don't want a repeat of this with a helicopter coming down on top of my house. Step up to the plate, FAA, there are some deficiencies here.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:51 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Is it my age, or shouldn't they just shoot the tires up? This car chase pampering seems like just one more decadent stupidity.
posted by wallstreet1929 at 10:00 PM on July 27, 2007


Yet in this instance the parties are billed as "pilot-reporter" and "cameraman".

I bet that there *used* to be three folks in each helicopter - reporter, cameraman, pilot - and that the third person was eliminated industry-wide a few years back to save money on salaries.

I bet.
posted by mediareport at 10:38 PM on July 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't bet against you, mediareport.

Sadly, this was inevitable- as far back as the OJ chase, seeing all the helos crossing in front of each other, I remarked to someone that "There's going to be a midair if they keep doing that, and when there is, the FAA will step in and start making rules, but not until."

I hate being right about shit like this.
posted by pjern at 11:35 PM on July 27, 2007


These things are not news. But they are watched in the hope that they become news when someone dies. Except you can't say that, can you? You have to act all shocked when you're anchoring live coverage and the trailed car piles into a head-on or mows down a bunch of kids.

Precisely.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:48 PM on July 27, 2007


Snyder: eat shit, lest ye be eaten

oh ive been burned
posted by Snyder at 11:49 PM on July 27, 2007


I just now watched the last link. The woman has no idea. You hear the man say, I think, "oh jesus" and you can catch glimpses of the ground and the sound of metal on metal.

Yikes. She just drones on like an automaton.

She'll need some therapy. At least, I HOPE she'll need some therapy.
posted by Ynoxas at 11:53 PM on July 27, 2007


I underestimated the saturated airspace. From the linked story:
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the pilots of the five news helicopters and one police chopper over the chase were not talking to air traffic controllers at the time, which is normal.
Six helicopters. Five from television stations. Pilots expected to communicate and 'get the "story"'. If this doesn't lead to regulation -- or at very least, the implementation of a pool system for local affiliates -- then something is deeply fucked. But we could already sense that from billboards proclaiming how Eyewitness News 14's helo is shinier than NewsChannel 12's. Welcome to Pricktease News.
posted by holgate at 1:35 AM on July 28, 2007


lead to regulation

Right on. Hopefully something can be done about ground-based reporter swarms too.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:47 AM on July 28, 2007


(And just to make the point, ABC15's Chopper 15 has its own online bio.)

It's a testament to the skill of the people flying newscopters that this doesn't happen more often. But they shouldn't be put in such situations.
posted by holgate at 1:55 AM on July 28, 2007


Still, at least it gives quonsar the chance to act like a cock, so it's not a complete waste then.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:20 AM on July 28, 2007


she'll need some therapy

Robots don't need therapy.
posted by spitbull at 5:18 AM on July 28, 2007


.
posted by tmcw at 6:27 AM on July 28, 2007


Maybe this will make them stop filling up the airwaves with this shit and report real news instead.

Then again--maybe not.
posted by hadjiboy at 7:14 AM on July 28, 2007


Maybe this will make them stop filling up the airwaves with this shit and report real news instead.

"Attorney General Gonzales is testifying with Congress in hot pursuit. Gonzo tries an evasive maneuver but Biden is right on his tail. Specter is coming around from the side and attempts a blocking maneuver. Oh! Did you see that? That was quite a crash."

Day late, dollar short, &c.
posted by dhartung at 8:18 AM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


*dangles limply*
posted by quonsar at 10:08 AM on July 28, 2007


Six helicopters following the chase, eh?

What a fucking stupid waste of oil resources.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:48 AM on July 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I for one hope that this leads news organizations to replace their car-chase copters with bike messengers equipped with helmet cams, tear gas and fireman's axes.
posted by Mister_A at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2007


*grabs helmet, axe, and teargas*

I'm in.

*looks around*

What, you guys don't keep this kind of stuff in your trunk?
posted by quin at 12:08 PM on July 28, 2007


So what happened with the car chase? Was any one of those five stations lucky enough to score the arrest footage?
posted by Reggie Digest at 1:32 PM on July 28, 2007


If you think about it, the pilot/reporter arrangement is dangerous for another reason besides distraction; there's a conflict of interest. Normally, you'd have three people: a pilot, responsible for safety, a reporter, responsible for the story, and a cameraman, responsible for the shot. The pilot would be in control, of course, and since his career isn't made or broken by the quality of the story, he won't be overly tempted to ignore his safety and risk his life in the pursuit of a good shot. This arrangement would keep safety as first objective of the crew, with it overruling the other objectives, as it should.

However, when the pilot's also the reporter, this breaks down. He's responsible for not just the safety but also the story, which means he's far more likely to weigh one against the other and take risks in pursuit of a career-boosting scoop. This arrangement pretty much puts the pilot/reporter's safety directly in opposition of their career advancement and encourages them to take risks - the more risks they take, the better their coverage, and the faster their career advances. The most accomplished people in this position will inevitably be those who ignore their own safety to the very limit of their luck, since they will outcompete their safer competitors. If you think about it, they might even get them eliminated - if riskier pilots are willing to push in and render the close airspace unsafe, safer pilots will be unable to get any kind of decent shot and won't be able to compete.

Seriously, this arrangement needs to stop. It probably won't happen until the FAA makes them or they get sued from someone their helicopter lands on, though.
posted by Mitrovarr at 3:03 PM on July 28, 2007


Mitrovarr, your explanation may do more to lend credence to why things have gravitated to a "pilot/reporter" situation. If you have a pilot who's concerned about safety and resources, that's counter intuitive to the guy trying to get the story. Their boss is gonna either err on the side of the pilot due to legal or medical concerns, or he'll err on the side of the reporter cuz he wants to have something provacative to show the audience before deadline.

If the boss just hires a reporter who can pilot himself, that solves that little argument, cuz the reporter won't be arguing with the pilot if he IS the pilot. I agree this needs to stop, but I don't see that happening. I'm afraid more people will have to die before this decision is taken out of the hands of media's middle management.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:56 PM on July 28, 2007


If only this had been a mid-aid collision involving two paparazzi trying to get photos of a celebrity wedding or Jessica Alba sunbathing...then I could have felt good about it.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:45 PM on July 29, 2007


I'm sorry to have offended you, but you're wrong. They are certainly not small businessmen - they used to be contracted by media organization but today are wholly owned subsidiaries of the media corporations who also own "local news" stations.

Hi! I live in Los Angeles. My best friend flies for the company that runs the helicopters for the top two local TV stations and several of the local radio stations. The company is a small business owner/operator arrangement, wherein the helicopters are rented out and painted by the news stations, but run, maintained, flown and reported from by unrelated staff (perhaps not coincidentally, usually the company owner). It is not unusual for my friend to be flying the helicopter and having the reporter switch between multiple different channels to provide the play by play for multiple stations.

And Los Angeles is a big, perhaps the biggest, helicopter news market. If you go downmarket, the little media organizations have even less of a stake in the copters; usually they don't even spring for the fake branding on the sides and use unmarked non-Jetrangers run by individuals or 2-man shops.

It is rare these days that any TV station or "media corporation" (?) takes any sort of ownership stake in a helicopter, as they're quite expensive and don't look good on the books, what with all the repairmen, hangars, and so forth.

So basically you're talking out your ass.

On the safety front, the first helicopter pilot on the scene takes responsibility for the air traffic. All of the other helicopters check in with the first one, who commands the positioning for everyone else. It is frequent that the pilot will not only be piloting the craft, but additionally talking about the scene on two or more channels, answering questions from the anchors, and directing air traffic / complying with law enforcement on two other channels. This is why they often sound somewhat distracted.

That said, modern helicopters in the hands of people with thousands of hours of flight time generally pilot themselves. And, unlike a plane, a helicopter has a built in parachute -- in the event of all but a collision or a loss of the Jesus Bolt, it's a pretty safe bet that autorotation will provide a reasonably safe landing in a much smaller space than an equivalent winged light aircraft.
posted by felix at 10:40 AM on July 30, 2007


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