The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) on Thursday announced the winners of the 2006 Karant Awards at the Opening Luncheon of the 2006 AOPA Expo in Palm Springs, Calif. The prestigious awards for journalism were presented to Jeff Hirsch, Jeff Barnhill, Miles O'Brien, Jason Moore, Jason Paur, and Stu Bykofsky.
"It is a pleasure to recognize journalists who do not succumb to the pressure of reporting negative news about general aviation," said AOPA President Phil Boyer. "The Karant Award winners educate the public about GA through their fair and insightful coverage."
Jeff Hirsch and Jeff Barnhill of WKRC in Cincinnati won top honors for their short form television feature that aired nationally on the CBS Morning program on Memorial Day. The story featured Honor Flight, a nonprofit organization that recruits volunteer pilots who donate their time and general aviation airplanes to fly World War II veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II memorial.
With approximately 1,000 World War II veterans dying each day, the organization's mission is to fly veterans who might not otherwise get to see their memorial, which was dedicated in 2004, before it is too late. Honor Flight is funded by private donations, and the flights are made available to veterans at no cost to them.
Hirsch and Barnhill's feature showed viewers one of the many positive, productive ways that general aviation is used in this country.
After two pilots inadvertently flew into the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) and Flight Restricted Zone (FRZ) around Washington, D.C., on May 11, 2005, there was much misinformation, speculation, and fear-mongering about general aviation among the media and general public. Miles O'Brien, of CNN, was an exception. His story won the Karant Award in the news category because of its insightful reporting.
O'Brien, a pilot, literally went above and beyond to report his story. He flew around Atlanta in a Cessna 152 and described what was happening throughout the flight. He informed the general public about visual flight rules (VFR) flying, general aviation aircraft, and the lack of risk that "small planes" pose as a weapon of terror. O'Brien provided a rational, educational, accurate depiction of general aviation at a time when it was sorely needed.
For more than a year, Jason Moore, of KTUU in Anchorage, accompanied National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators to the scene of general aviation crashes. His documentary-style series won top honors in the television program length category for its accurate portrayal of what happens after an accident occurs.
Moore had the rare opportunity to be on the front lines of accident investigation. By broadcasting this series, Moore informed the general public about the importance that is placed on safety and the amount of time and effort involved in investigating what causes general aviation aircraft to crash.
In the radio category, Jason Paur, National Public Radio, won the Karant Award for his uplifting piece that spotlighted 74-year-old Carl Unger, who has been giving free rides in his homebuilt aircraft, the "Breezy," at Oshkosh EAA AirVenture for the past 40 years.
"That's my donation," said Unger. "To promote general aviation to the public."
The retired airline pilot has flown 6,000 people since 1965 and simply loves to make people happy, whether they are seasoned pilots or first-time fliers.
Paur's story captured and shared Unger's infectious love of aviation in a way sure to spark the general public's imagination.
Stu Bykofsky, of the Philadelphia Daily News, won the Karant Award in the print category for his article intended to entice people to learn how to fly. Bykofsky's message was an entertaining narrative of his experience as a student pilot on an introductory flight.
With humor and honesty, Bykofsky described his adventure in great detail and encouraged his readers to take an introductory flight as well. By describing the steps involved in taking that first step towards learning to fly, Bykofsky showed his readers that it is indeed an attainable goal.
The following journalists received honorable mentions for the 2006 Karant Awards: Bob McNaney, KSTP, Young Pilot: Emergency Landing; Dennis Kellogg and Jeremy Watson, KHAS, A Day in the Heartland: Aerobatics Pilot; and Richard Greene, Auto Remarketing News, Up, Up, & Away: Dealers save time with Private Pilots License.
The Karant Awards honor the best of "fair, accurate, and insightful" reporting on general aviation in the general (non-aviation) media. They include categories for print, TV or video, and radio, and carry an honorarium of $1,000 in each category. The awards are named for the late Max Karant, founder of AOPA Pilot magazine and the association's first senior vice president.
With more than 408,000 members, representing nearly two thirds of all pilots in the United States, AOPA is the largest, most influential aviation association in the world. AOPA has achieved its prominent position through effective advocacy, enlightened leadership, technical competence, and hard work. Providing member services that range from representation at the federal, state, and local levels to legal services, advice, and other assistance, AOPA has built a service organization that is without peer to any other in the aviation community.
November 9, 2006