At the Opening Luncheon of its 2005 Expo, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) honored print, radio, and television journalists for their fair and insightful coverage of general aviation issues. Richard Murphy Werry, Devon Hubbard Sorlie, Chris Dunn, Marissa Tejada, Jarrod Miller, David Marshall, and William Lang, each received AOPA's prestigious 2005 Max Karant Journalism Award.
"In an age of sensationalized news reports about aviation security and safety, today we recognize members of the media who instead provided the truth about general aviation to the non-flying public," said AOPA President Phil Boyer.
Topics of the winning entries ranged from aviation history, to learning how to fly, to sightseeing by airplane.
Richard Murphy Werry, of KIMN-FM in Denver, Colorado, won top honors in the radio category. In Salute to Aurora Airpark, Werry, a pilot with close personal ties to Aurora Airpark, took listeners on a journey through history as he told the story of this private airport near Denver International Airport that dates back to World War II. The airpark, sadly, is no longer operational, but Werry's story told of the importance of airports like Aurora to their communities.
Werry learned to fly at Aurora. His own perspective added a personal touch to this tribute.
Devon Hubbard Sorlie, a reporter for Soundings in Norfolk, Virginia, wrote Wild Blue Yonder, a recreation piece about the thrill, the challenge, and most of all, the joy that comes with learning to fly.
To prepare for writing Wild Blue Yonder, Sorlie took an introductory flight lesson with an instructor from the Langley Aero Club. In the article, she discussed employment opportunities for pilots, the benefits of flying personal aircraft for business purposes, and how easy it is to get started.
Chris Dunn of KDVR-TV in Denver, Colorado, broadcast this insightful story about Colorado Angel Flight. Dunn showed the vital missions that Angel Flight pilots fly, from transporting sick children who couldn't otherwise afford air transportation to distant medical appointments, to flying life-saving medical supplies.
Dunn's story captured the importance of the volunteer flights flown by these "angels in the sky." As has been recently evident by their work after the Gulf Coast hurricanes, Angel Flight pilots are a vital resource to communities nationwide.
A controversial issue for general aviation (GA), this news broadcast about airport security was a fair and accurate report. Marissa Tejada and Jarrod Miller, of WOFL-TV in Lake Mary, Florida, detailed the procedures in place at GA airports in Florida, and what can be done to ensure that aircraft and airports remain secure.
The importance of accurate reporting - not scare tactics - is especially important with this sensitive issue, to ensure the non-flying public has accurate information about GA security.
David Marshall and William Lang, of WPBS and WXXI in Watertown and Rochester, New York, respectively, produced Flight Plan - a series of aviation travel shows. The winning episode was a flying adventure through central and upstate New York, taking viewers to a pancake breakfast, a warplane museum, and Lake Pleasant in the Adirondacks. Marshall and Lang's show not only captured pilots' love of flying, but also gave passengers something to look forward to when they reached their destinations.
The following journalists received honorable mention for their reporting on general aviation: Dave Hirschman, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Michael Hagerty, KWBU-FM, Waco, Texas; Clinton Griffiths and Brian Gordon, KWCH-TV, Wichita, Kansas; and Judy Stiles, KGCS-TV, Joplin, Missouri.
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 406,000 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 3, 2005