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What to sayWhat to say

After an accident like this, many GA pilots will be asked to comment — to explain how it could happen to people who know little or nothing about general aviation.

If you're asked — especially by the news media — please be careful how you respond. The best response to questions from reporters is to refer them to the professionals on AOPA's media relations team. (Call 301/695-2162 at any time.)

If you talk to the media, review AOPA's online " Guide to Talking to Reporters" first.

No matter whom you're talking to, say only what you know. Do not speculate.

The "facts" will change, many times. We won't know for sure what happened until the NTSB completes its work months from now.

But you can explain about VFR flight regulations. And that aircraft accidents into buildings are extraordinarily rare, despite the thousands of flights over cities every day. In fact, in the last five years there have been only two accidents in the continental United States where a person in a building was fatally injured by a GA aircraft.

If questions about GA security arise, explain that we know who and what are on our aircraft, and we take great pains to make sure no one unauthorized take our airplanes. Talk about AOPA's Airport Watch program and all of the security measures that have been put in place since 9/11.

Say that the typical GA aircraft is lighter than a Honda Civic and carries less than 100 gallons of fuel. It simply can't do much damage.

Send them to www.GAservingAmerica.org, the Web site created specifically by AOPA to explain general aviation to the general public.

And say how seriously we pilots take flying safely. That we train and retrain to keep our skills high, to minimize risks, and to ensure that both people in the aircraft and on the ground stay safe.

They'll believe you, because it's the truth.

April 18, 2012

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