The crash of a light plane into a Roy neighborhood on Dec. 5 had many elements common to such accidents.
This blog post focuses on how the crash’s aftermath progressed to the identification and savaging of scapegoats, under the category, “some things never change.” More on that later. First, the other relevant themes:
- Dense fog hampered landing conditions.
- The pilot of the small plane apparently did not follow suggestions to divert to another airport with clear visibility.
- People whose Roy homes are beneath the flight paths around the Ogden-Hinckley Airport are weary of the occasional crashes in their neighborhoods; they fear for their lives; and they want officialdom to eliminate the problem.
- Roy and Ogden officials are saying they’ll do everything they can, and the Ogden airport manager says he’s proud of the busy airport’s overall good safety record.
The unsatisfying bottom line is that the airport’s not going anywhere and neither are the homes in harm’s way. No one’s happy.
So, at impasse, human nature kicks in and everyone starts to pinpoint scapegoats.
Scapegoat No. 1 is the airport manager, Ed Rich. Ogden has the busiest civil aviation airport in the state and, as mentioned earlier, has a good overall record. But Rich made the public relations mistake of emphasizing that. He also pointed out the airport was here long before Roy allowed residential subdivision building near its runways.
As bulls maddened by a flapping red cape, angered Roy residents charged the matador at a meeting of the Ogden City Council on Tuesday night, as reported by the Standard-Examiner’s Michael McFall.
“I saw Mr. Rich sit there in his comfortable office and smugly say that a couple of crashes isn’t a big problem,” said Darrel Gamble, who lost a third of his own house in the latest crash. “I’m a Christian, but I wish a plane had crashed into his house.” Gamble says he owes them an apology.
Some of Rich’s comments in numerous media interviews since the crash did come off as insensitive. Some of the flak he’s getting for that is deserved. Rich, who waved the matador’s cape, is the main scapegoat for residents’ frustration and rage.
But Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey apparently is not willing to let his airport manager suffer such a pummeling without trying to find some scapegoats of his own. Those targets would be news media outlets who interviewed Rich and reported his defensive and excuse-laden comments.
“He (Godfrey) also lamented that they do not control how the media represents Ed Rich, the airport manager.” And, Godfrey said, Rich’s comments “may have been misconstrued.”
Godfrey’s shoot-the-messenger approach of denigrating the news coverage is a shabby attempt to deflect legitimate public alarm about the Roy crashes. And his implication that people aren’t smart enough to properly construe the airport manager’s inept responses to the problem is an insult to the Roy residents.