Saturday, July 28, 2007

Photographer killed in chopper crash once worked at WNEP

One of the four journalists killed in Friday's crash involving two news helicopters over the skies of Phoenix, Arizona was a former WNEP employee. KNXV photographer Rick Krolak worked for WNEP in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and also spent time in New York at stations in Elmira and Binghamton.

While WNEP is the only station around here with a helicopter, Skycam 16 has seen its share of crowded skies. Andy Palumbo wrote in his blog about one such experience during a NASCAR race at Pocono a few years ago.

"Skycam wasn't the only chopper in the air over the track. State Police were up. A private helicopter was circling, as well as one or two from the television network covering the race. [...] There were four or five helicopters over Long Pond that day and our pilot made sure we stayed out of trouble. Each of us was assigned an altitude. We kept out of each other's way. Still, I was relieved when the noon broadcast was over and we headed to the pad at WNEP."

Those of you who've seen WYOU's old promos on YouTube know that the station had a helicopter for a brief period in the early 1990s. According to one Beale's Bites reader, station management at WYOU and WNEP met to discuss things such as "how close, how far, aerial spacing, right of way" between both helicopters, to prevent what happened in Phoenix.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A horrible tragedy and my thoughts are with the families, friends and co-workers of those who died.

I've long been amazed there aren't more mid-air collisions. I think of it this way: you're driving in the parking lot of a huge shopping center. Instead of following the rows, however, you're moving diagonally across the lanes.

You've got your head on a swivel, right? You're scanning 360 degrees, not knowing where the next car is coming from.

Now do it in mid-air with traffic not just all around you but above and below you.

Helicopter pilots have "the right stuff."

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a simple solution but we'll never see it come to be. Areas that have multiple helicopters could (but won't) share video and prevent them getting in each other's way. The public would benefit because more things could be covered simultaneously in different areas and the video shared and used as seen fit. The "exclusive" angle, while important, should not be an excuse to endanger lives. Not only the on-board pilots/reporters/videographers, but the people down below are at risk. On-the-ground reporting is where the exclusiveness should be aggressively applied. In the air, among others after the same story, is a disaster waiting to happen, and just did. God rest their souls. Video is shared after national tragedies with credit to the copyright station. The same should apply in all multiple-helicopter areas before this becomes as common as car crashes.

1:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Howard, "Celebrity News BEGONE" is one of your current threads.

How about "Meaningless helicopter pursuits BEGONE?"

I can make an argument that news about Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton is important: it helps us teach our children that their actions have consequences.

OK, it's a specious argument, even silly. But is it as silly as watching cops chase some bozo up and down the freeways of Los Angeles or Phoenix?

"Yeah, but we're performing an important serfvice by warning the public." Uh-huh. But I'll bet the people REALLY in danger, on the highways, aren't watching TV!

A few weeks ago CNN, MSNBC and FOX all covered a "low-speed" chase involving a suspected drunk driver in L.A.


Tell me, please, how that coverage served people in Muskegon, Michigan--or Portland, Oregon--or Bangor, Maine.

There was high praise recently for the cable anchor who announced she wasn't going to read any more stories about Paris Hilton. I'm waiting for the day someone steps forward and says, "I refuse to narrate any more pictures of asses running stoplights."

The cops have to do what they have to do: but why do we have to cover it LIVE? The four lives lost last week are four too many, especially when the real purpose of the coverage was to titillate viewers and get a rating point or two.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:54 you really need to leave the valley.....NEWS Flash.....large market stations do share video....on a daily basis it just doesn't happen in NEPA.....but what you are asking for is to stop stations from compeiting against each other. that will never happen.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember working with Rick on a field survey in 1982. We were up on the roof of the Pocono Manor resort trying to wrestle a microwave dish into getting a shot back to Penobscot. We didn't get the shot, but I'll always remember what a pleasure it was to work with Rick. Great guy.

11:52 PM  
Blogger Bill Mecca said...

slight correction WYOU (even WDAU) had Chopper 22 in the mid 80's. Bob Gobla was the pilot. Started out with one of those little bubble choppers like on MASH, then the Bell Jet Ranger that was seen in the promos. I remember talkign with him at length about the issues with choppers, especially one trip we headed out to Danville and had to turnback because of bad weather, we wound up putting down at the hangar in White Haven and driving back in the snow storm. It was an exciting trip seeing the clouds close the opening over the mountains and wondering if we would make it.

11:34 AM  
Blogger Bill Mecca said...

One correction WYOU had a chopper from the Mid80's first the Mash bubble type, then the Bell Jet Ranger, both with pilot Bob Gobla.

4:06 PM  

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