Four officials of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and AOPA Air Safety Foundation have been awarded a coveted Aviation Week and Space Technology "Laurel" for their work following the JFK, Jr. tragedy in July 1999.
AOPA President Phil Boyer, ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg, AOPA Senior Vice President of Communications Drew Steketee, and AOPA Vice President of Communications Warren Morningstar were lauded by the influential aviation newsweekly for honest and forthright communications with the general audience media during massive coverage of the crash.
The awardees were recognized for presenting candid information on general aviation safety including "explanations of the basics of flying and...frank discussions of the vagaries of VFR flight at night [that] helped squelch inaccurate, sensational reporting about the crash and the safety of general aviation."
AOPA staff handled some 150 news interviews following the crash, including a major in-cockpit interview between AOPA President Phil Boyer and news anchor Brian Williams on MSNBC's influential evening news program. Boyer helped explain safety issues in layman's terms while correcting misinformation and misconceptions. He appeared before a congressional committee shortly thereafter.
Steketee was on-camera on the CBS television network just hours after the story broke. Responding to Dan Rather for 6.5 hours of breaking news coverage, Steketee also worked wire services and major newspapers from a telephone on the CBS Washington set when off-camera. He later appeared on CBS' 60 Minutes, ABC's 20/20, NBC's Dateline, CNN Sunday news programming, and in other coverage over the next two weeks.
Morningstar handled scores of newspaper and radio interviews, with Landsberg supplying the perspective of general aviation's foundation for safety research and continuing pilot education.
The recognition for AOPA was one of three in the Operations category. Av Week editors issue their Aerospace Laurels annually to honor "individuals and teams who made significant contributions to the global field of aerospace in 1999."
AOPA President Boyer is the previous recipient of an honorable mention in the Aviation Week and Space Technology annual recognitions.
February 22, 2000