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Reply from the "Aeronautical expert"

Kip Powick

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Dear Kip Powick:

Thank you for your email regarding the December 1, 2004 L.A. Times article in which I was badly misquoted. I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight as the newspaper seems disinclined to print a correction.

In addition to having owned and operated an air charter referral service for some 23 years, I myself am a pilot with nearly 8,000 hours. I hold an ATP as well as a current CFII SEL MEL. Moreover, much of my flying experience was in the east where winter operations can, at times, be severe. Therefore, I know full well what effects ice can have on any kind of aircraft be it large or small, overpowered or underpowered.

During my interview with L.A. Times staff writer David Kelly, I stated how the Challenger’s engines were powerful enough such that, if one engine quit after V1 during the take off roll, the airplane could still fly. While there clearly would be a change in performance characteristics, it would not be so dramatic that a safe lift-off could not be achieved. Once airborne, the crew could then deal with the problem. This part of the discussion had nothing to do with the subject of icing.

Separately, Mr. Kelly asked if the weight of the ice would keep the aircraft from lifting off. As a direct response to that question, I said the “weight” would not necessarily be an issue as the aircraft was more than likely a thousand pounds or more under gross. However, I did say that ice which adheres to the wings, while not primarily a weight problem, does disrupt airflow thus degenerating lift capabilities and even adding drag. Somehow the distinction between the two questions about power and icing did not get distinguished in the mind of Mr. Kelly.

As an aside, I asked Mr. Kelly if I could review what he was going to publish. He said, “No.” His reason: if he did it for me, he would have to do it for everyone. Also, he said he could not have every politician rewriting his articles. What is interesting to note is how the Associated Press and several other news organizations, including the CBS affiliate KCNC Channel 4 in Denver, all reported my remarks correctly.

As I am sure you know, there are still some puzzling aspects surrounding the incident in Montrose, Colorado. Not surprisingly, it will be months before we have a factual NTSB report to shed some light on what happened. Meanwhile, I was simply trying to satisfy the media with some known information that would aid their inexorable rush to judgment. It is impossible to keep them from doing such a thing, so I wanted to, at least, put them on a right path. That seemed to work for all but the L.A. Times and I am sorry for the confusion which resulted from their misquote.

I also regret what effect this all might have on the charter industry which, based on my years of experience, is very safe and reliable. Incidents like these usually mean we have to rebuild the levels of trust with the flying public, but I know we can do it.


David W. Kempa

President, Air Denver Inc.

(800) 333-4057 - Dave@airdenver.com

cc: Editor, Los Angeles Times

CHARTERS by Air Denver Inc.

Worldwide Air Charter Referral Service

Since 1981

(303) 333-3332 or (800) 333-4057, fax (303) 670-7810

To go directly to our web site, click: http://www.airdenver.com

e-mail Dave@airdenver.com

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Once again it shows that you should only believe half of what you see and nothing of what you read. Or is that half of what you read and nothing of what you hear? Or half of of what you hear and all that you see? Oh, heck the quote below is better. . . .

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Particularly for those who were quick to jump on Mr. Kempa, the next logical step to take would be to send a rather pointed email to the LA Times writer David Kelly, to inform him of how damaging his misquote can be to the aviation industry. Not that it will do any good, but it might feel good!

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Hopefully it will make it that much easier for the next guy to tell the media to "go away" when they request a statement on any aviation matter. At leat until the ground rules are clearly set in favour of the interviewee.


Let the media sort themselves out if they want to be trusted by ANYONE! IN the mean time:

Keep yer mouth shut and yer eyes open! icon_eek.gif

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Very good on Mr. Kempa's part. I received the same response. I see that it was CC'd to the L.A. times...

As has been said earlier, you can't say anything to the Press that won't get twisted and bite you...

"So do you still beat your Wife?"...


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