A plane crashed on Sunday in Butte, Montana. Apparently, all fourteen people aboard the plane were killed. This is a little odd, and a bit of a problem because the plane, a Pilatus PC-12, is only certified to carry a total of eleven people including the pilot. Such a high-density seating configuration is kind of unusual. Most PC-12s are configured to carry six passengers plus two in the cockpit.
The Pilatus PC-12 is a single-engine turboprop airplane powered. It has a huge cabin that is nearly the same size as a Beechcraft King Air 200, and uses basically the same engine - but just one of them, compared to two as in the King Air.
Seating diagram. The two pilot seats to the left of the entrance door are omitted for clarity
High-Density Seating Configuration (9 passengers plus 2 pilots)
"The plane was registered to Eagle Cap Leasing Inc. in Enterprise, Ore, (FAA spokeman) Fergus said. He didn’t know who was operating the plane.
Can more than one person occupy a single seat? The FAA does allow an adult to hold an otherwise unrestrained child as long as that child is under two years old. So there will have to be some splanin’ to do just if there actually were fourteen people aboard this aircraft.
But that’s not what’s bugging me today. Last night I read about the story on Yahoo News. Evidently it was a feed from the Associated Press. The story was filed just a few hours after the crash occurred. Here is part of what was written:
X.XXXXXX is listed in Oregon corporate records as Eagle Cap’s president. Attempts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful."
You bet your ass they were unsuccessful. Sooooo…these morons from the Associated Press actually managed to ferret out the phone number for the head of Eagle Cap Leasing and called him on a Sunday right after the plane his company owns was involved in a fatal crash? And the guy had the gall to not answer his phone? Gee, ya think? (Turns out that that head of the company is also a pilot and was possibly in the plane at the time - although this has not been yet confirmed by the FAA.)
Look, let me tell you something. If I am ever involved – even just peripherally - in a fatal aircraft crash and you try to contact me ON THE DAY OF THE ACCIDENT (especially on a Sunday?)…if you should somehow get through to me, Mr. Associated Press reporter, I believe you’re not going to like what you hear. If you ever say something to me like, ”Gee, Mr. Barbanes, I know you’ve just suffered through a horrible, tragic accident, but can you tell us what happened? Can you give us a statement? After all, Associated Press readers want…hell, NEED to know!” My statement will be along the lines of where you can stick your microphone and notepad. You will get nothing printable or quotable from me. And that goes for you too, Mr. Fox News, and you Mr. CNN, and you, Ms. Local News Station too.
Why does the media in this country feel like they just have…like it is their God-given right…to invade the privacy of people immediately after such tragedies? And on a weekend yet! No matter what the subject or situation is, the media feels obligated to “get the story!” Get that soundbite! And when they can’t, they cop an attitude. The old, damning, accusatory, ”…Attempts to reach Mr. X by phone were unsuccessful.” As if to say, “The nerve of him…not talking to us!”
Being a news reporter used to be an honorable profession. No more. These all-news TV channels are not necessarily a good thing. As my friend Mike Brady says, ”They have three minutes of real news that they have to cram into 30 minutes of air time.” You got that right, Mike.
In this day of round-the-clock, “wall-to-wall” news coverage, networks are desperate for anything they can put on the air…even if it might not actually qualify as “news”…even if they have to make it up…or even if it means harassing some poor owner of a company whose plane just crashed, killing all onboard including a bunch of kids. Never mind that the guy - even if he wasn't at the controls - is in the middle of dealing with a horror that no sane person would wish upon anybody. What’s more important is getting a statement for the Associated Press.
It’s a disgrace, I tell you. And I’m sick of it.