Aviation: The power to transform lives

April 10, 2007

Aviation: The power to transform lives

By AOPA ePublishing staff

With a bit of encouragement and a taste of the freedom of flying, aviation has the power to transform lives. Pilots, flight instructors, and journalists all play a part.

Aviation humorist Rod Machado entertained AOPA members during Expo's opening luncheon with tales of training a student, whose father enrolled him in flight training in a last-ditch effort to keep his son out of reform school. Years later Machado saw the student, who had stopped flying with him after he soloed, in the right seat of a Boeing 737.

Journalists have the power of the pen, and the World Wide Web, to influence the masses. During the luncheon, AOPA awarded journalists for reporting fair, insightful, and accurate stories about general aviation with the 2007 Karant Awards. Many of these award-winning stories wouldn't have been possible without generous pilots who took reporters on flights or took time to explain general aviation.

"It is a pleasure to recognize the efforts of reporters who have produced stories about general aviation for a public that has misperceptions about our industry," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "We thank these journalists for telling their stories fairly and accurately."

Pilot training booming in Maine

Jennifer Manley, of WVII-TV in Bangor, Maine, won for her short television feature that captured the interest of both pilots and nonpilots. In her first flight lesson, Manley showed viewers the ease with which she flew the airplane. With her instructor at her side, Manley took control of the aircraft in this inspiring learn-to-fly story.

In the wake of the high-profile accident involving Cory Lidle, Manley's story emphasized that pilots and flight instructors focus on safety and use checklists throughout each flight. She also described the training that all pilots go through before earning their certificate.

Flying with Mom

When Dave Hirschman's mom bought an airplane and needed to ferry it from Oklahoma to California, she invited her son to join her. Not only did Hirschman embrace the challenge of flying with his mom, but he also served as her flight instructor during the trip. The article he wrote about the journey, published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, shows what many pilots learn the hard way — it's not always easy to fly with family.

The touching and humorous story details what happens when a "foul-mouthed" mom and her "by-the-book" son strap into an RV-10 for a cross-country flight. Their bond clearly goes beyond their shared passion for aviation.

Is office tower's height a hazard?

The San Diego Union-Tribune's David Hasemyer won a Karant Award for his series of articles about a building that was constructed near San Diego's Montgomery Field, even after FAA issued a hazard determination on the building because of its height. The city of San Diego eventually issued a stop work order on the construction and ordered the top two floors of this building be removed.

Hasemyer's in-depth research and ongoing coverage of the issue, city politics, and miscommunication that led to the construction has been a nationwide example to cities that favor development near their airports.

Honorable mention

The following journalists received honorable mentions in the 2007 Karant Awards: Tom Mayer, Sun Journal, New Bern, N.C., "First Flight: On a wing and a pair"; Maggie FitzRoy, The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville Beach, Fla., "A Passion for Flight"; Klint Lowry, The News-Herald, Southgate, Mich., "Winging It: Program aims to encourage would-be pilots."

The Karant Awards honor the best of "fair, accurate, and insightful" reporting on GA in the general (nonaviation) media. They include categories for print, TV, or video. The awards are named for the late Max Karant, founder of AOPA Pilot magazine and the association's first senior vice president.

October 4, 2007