Letters for Friday — March 31, 2006

• ‘Weather’ to helicopter tour

• Emergency response exceptional

• Let my ‘Ground Zero’ go

• Arguing ‘Ground Zero’ in Missouri

‘Weather’ to helicopter tour

There’s an inherent conflict of interest in the helicopter tour industry. It makes business sense to fly all day and avoid cancellations. But it makes safety sense to cancel flights when the weather and visibility is marginal. I worked on the ground for a tour helicopter company on the rainy side of the Big Island several years ago. We constantly had to persuade tourists to fly in weather they thought was undesirable.

Here on Kaua‘i, I drive to Koke‘e every day on Waimea Canyon Road. Every day, I see tour helicopters over Waimea Canyon, flying clock-wise around the island. In the past weeks, when the island was getting hammered with rain, it was often foggy in and around the canyon. Tuesday, March 28, was no exception. The canyon was completely obscured with fog. I was driving up at about 9 a.m. when I spotted a tour helicopter flying slow and low above the road, flying in a counterclockwise direction. I strongly suspect the pilot had flown into unsafe conditions and was trying to retreat back towards Waimea. Pilots sometimes talk about flying IFR (“I Follow Road”) — a risky way of getting through bad weather by closely following terrain.

I wondered two things: First, just how thick does the fog need to be before it occurs to someone it might be a bad day to sightsee? Second, have the recent rains hurt helicopter tour sales so badly that the industry is willing to risk having more burned bodies and wreckage?

  • Christopher Becker
    licensed pilot

Emergency response exceptional

Recently while on a motorcycle tour of Kaua‘i my bike was suddenly struck by a drunk driver. Narrowly escaping death, I was then pinned to the road by a 750-pound Harley Davidson. Unable to free my trapped leg, the bike proceeded to burn through my boot and severely burned my foot. I was reduced to desperate cries for help. Out of the darkness appeared an “Eagle” (fellow biker) who heroically lifted the machine off of me before disappearing into the night. Thank you, Eagle.

Soon the familiar face of one of Kaua‘i’s finest appeared at my side comforting me with his compassionate voice and reminding me that help was on its way. Thank you, officer.

Next, a paramedic team along with Hanalei Fire Department was on site assisting me through the ordeal. Thank all of you men.

The ambulance crew did an impeccable job of stabilizing and transporting me safely and quickly. Assisting in the transport were police escorts who I felt completely safe with. Thank you, men and women. At Wilcox Hospital, we were met by yet another team of professionals who took over. They provided me with the same level of selfless care and excellence shown to me earlier. To the amazing people of Wilcox, from the cafeteria personnel, cleaning crew, and security guards, to the comforting and accommodating nurses and doctors, I wish to extend my sincere love and aloha to you all. You are the best at what you do. Mahalo nui loa, God Bless all of you.

  • Tony Gonzalez

Let my ‘Ground Zero’ go

It is starting to become exceedingly annoying when people insist that any term or phrase that was related to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 can not be used anywhere else — that they are somehow hostages to history. The phrase “Ground Zero” was not coined on 9/11. It has been used for several decades to describe the spot at which some significant event occurred.

If I’m not mistaken, it was coined by the U.S. military to describe the spot on which the first nuclear weapon was tested (the Trinity site in New Mexico). 9/11 has no more right to the phrase than any other event.

The same people who make such arguments also launched a ludicrous campaign to have New Line Cinema change the name of the second of “The Lord of the Rings” movies, because “The Two Towers” was a too close and “obvious” reference to “The Twin Towers.” They even went so far as to argue that New Line Cinema was trying to capitalize on the attacks. It seemingly made no difference to these people that “The Lord of the Rings” predated 9/11 by nearly fifty years.

Please stop this nonsense and try to move on. These attempts to co-opt words and phrases is not accomplishing anything of value.

  • Michael Mann

Arguing ‘Ground Zero’ in Missouri

In response to Ms. Fehring’s response to the Ground Zero issue…

First, Ms. Fehring, as a former long-term and, hopefully again, resident of Kaua‘i, I am deeply saddened by the events of the dam breach that prematurely took the lives of seven people and an unborn child. Please accept my heartfelt condolences on your, and the island’s loss.

I must, however, agree with the fact that the term “Ground Zero” is inappropriate in this instance. The detonation of the bombs in Japan that killed millions and the “dropping” of aircraft used as bombs that killed thousands in New York were deliberate acts of vengeance and hatred at the hands of man. On the other hand, the dam breaches were acts of nature brought about, or hastened, by the unusually high volume of rain that has fallen on the Islands.

While I appreciate your grief, perspective is necessary. Ask the descendants of the World War II era Japanese or the families of the 2700-plus people who were murdered in New York how your attitude makes them feel.

  • Jeanne Van Ornum
    Springfield, Mo.

Just say no

Let us just say no to Diebold and other vendors whose credibility as independent, non-partisan and unimpeachable is highly questionable. In these times it is essential to prohibit the use at any time of undisclosed software, wireless communication devices, and internet connections in voting machines.

  • Tyler Barnes

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