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Helicopter Crash Lands at Van Nuys Airport

Saturday, September 09, 2006 |

On Saturday, September 9, 2006 at 5:15 PM, four Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, including Van Nuys Airport-based LAFD Crash/Rescue and Foam Units, as well as one LAFD Paramedic Rescue Ambulance, all under the direction of Captain Alfred Wobig, responded to a reported Aircraft Crash on Taxiway 'A' at Van Nuys Airport in Van Nuys.

We have removed the images of this
damaged helicopter at the
request of the aircraft owner
.

Please see 'comments' below


Scrambling to an alert from the control tower, Firefighters arrived quickly to discover the "hard landing" of a 2004 Schweizer Model 269C-1 helicopter (N323CP) with two persons aboard.

The aircraft occupants, a flight instructor and another pilot taking instrument training, had reportedly experienced some manner of in-flight emergency prior to impacting the taxiway. There was no fire or fuel spill, and both men exited the aircraft without obvious injury prior to the Fire Department's arrival.

LAFD Firefighter/Paramedics examined both men, who declined further treatment or transportation.

Firefighters stood by as the heavily damaged rotorcraft, with approval of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), was removed from the taxiway of the world's busiest general aviation airport.

Airport Police Officers subsequently took control of the scene. The incident will be formally investigated by NTSB officials.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department

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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for the very well reported preliminary facts.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Anonymous:

You are welcome. For an official report on the specific cause of this 'hard landing', please monitor the NTSB aviation website.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

Dear Visitors,

In the course of our reporting this incident, we were provided with four images of the aircraft taken following its impact on the taxiway.

We offered those (to be honest, rather mundane) images via this blog in the spirit of training the thousands of Firefighters who visit our site, and of making the public and pilots aware of our endeavors.

If anything, the photos were a testament to the skills of the pilot and the ruggedness of the aircraft and were in no-way voyeuristic.

Though this non-injury hard landing occurred in the wide open spaces of a publicly owned airport and involved the response of public entities, the owner of the aircraft took exception to our providing them to you via this blog.

Though there is no statutory requirement or precedent for our removing such images, we felt it best to please the aircraft owner, who otherwise offered polite praise for our response efforts that day.

This explanation is offered to remove any doubt or conjecture regarding the reason for removal of the images.

If you have any further questions, we kindly ask you to direct them to the owner of the aircraft.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

CaptWilson1956 said...

Actually, you are wrong. I come to this blog often and, this time think you've made a slight mistake. There is a HUGE difference between federally-owned land and public land. If you ever go through international customs at a US airport you are not allowed to take pictures. Why. Because it is not public land. Even though the government owns it. If the Van Nuys airport runway was public land, as defined legally, I should be allowed free access to it. And I am not. Why. Because it is RESTRICTED. If you look at airport codes, you do not have automatic free rights to take and distribute pictures of aircraft, personnel, or any other part of the locale.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

captainwilson1956,

Thanks for taking the time to comment. We've never heard of the codes you mention as they apply to taking photographs, nor apparently have our friends in the news media, who routinely print and broadcast such images. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Paramedic
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

CaptWilson1956 said...

Brian,
Good of you to bring up the media. An accredited journalist has certain privileges that the rest of us do not have. Even though Branzburg v. Hayes, the supreme court case of 1972, somewhat limited the presses freedom to "do anything" it did reiterate that they have the right to do more than a private citizen. Not to mention the First Amendment gives the government the right to "recognize special privileges for journalists". Like filming in restricted areas. So your friends in the media might just be taking this special status they have for granted.
Yours,
Bobby Wilson

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

captainwilson1956,

We appreciate your being a regular blog visitor. Thanks for your follow-up.

While I won't profess to be a legal scholar, I may be able to offer a little insight into the day-to-day challenges we face.

What have been considered by some to be formal media 'credentials' are (rightfully or wrongfully) a thing of the past.

There is simply no one standard definition or criteria at this time that we can use at the scene of an emergency to legally define a journalist.

We can only ask rhetorically pursuant of California Penal Code Section 409.5, what legally defines a "news service"?

If we have an emergency incident and someone wishes to declare themselves a journalist working for a news service (a blog? a community newsletter they print at Kinkos?) we grant them the same access and professional courtesy that has historically been offered to full-time employees of community newspapers, local radio and network television.

...and yes, that does include airport incidents such as the one captured in this memorable image that we are proud to have facilitated.

People do often seem surprised to learn that many Law Enforcement agencies have completely abandoned the practice of issuing so-called 'Press ID' for the very reasons I mention above.

It is a complex issue... and one in which we seek to balance the unquestionable rights of the public at large, while still respecting the emotions of individuals.

Thanks again for your thought-provoking comments.

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Paramedic
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

Frank said...

Brian and Capt,
I see the issue of the photograph and media (or other) access to the site as two different issues.
Obviously the picture could not have been taken without access,but once taken whether to publish is a separate issue.
Because the "crash" occurred on an airport access can be denied anyone officials don't want there.
However, even if the picture was obtained illegally it could have been published by the Fire Dept or any form of the "media."
Think Pentagon Papers.
I think the blog could have left the images up despite the aircraft owner's request they be pulled. The notion of privacy pertains to people, not helicopters. Unless a victim's identity was clearly shown in the images there is no privacy issue. Even then I believe the court would lean toward the right to publish, unless there were exigent circumstances.

Harrison said...

Not knowing what LAFD standard of practice is, all of what is being said makes me wonder... According to NYFD commissioner, Nicholas Scoppetta, firemen can use photographs of accidents for learning purposes only and only within the private confines of the fire department. Being a cop I also know, as a public servant, I am not allowed to work another job while on duty. So Captain Wilson's discussion of journalism vs. private citizen is a bit moot. With that in mind, Brian's argument that the definition of a journalist has widened thus he can call yourself a journalist, or at least can be protected under journalist's freedoms, means he working as a journalist while on the city's clock... as a fireman. An EMT was fired in Connecticut for a similar act. Anyway, I really don't want to start a debate but the fact remains, Brian is a fireman who took photos while on duty and then put them up on a website that anyone could see. In short, I think if he had limited the access to these photos, allowing only registered law enforcement officers, medics, and firemen to see it, they'd be no problem. Or if he took the pictures while he was off-duty and not on airport grounds under the title of firefighter, then no one would have had a problem. Finally, I noticed the helicopter call letters were visible in the shots. Frank, as you probably know, when a car accident happens the licence plate of the vehicle is covered. And even when photos are used for learning purposes the people involved are kept anonymous. There is a reason for that.

LAFD Media and Public Relations said...

harrison,

Thanks for the note.

In the interest of accuracy, I should first and foremost clarify that I did not take the pictures in question.

The images were simply among the hundreds that are sent unsolicited to me each year from countless sources.

When and where possible, images that portray the LAFD in action or seem related to our professional endeavors are shared through a variety of channels worldwide.

As a Firefighter working full-time in media and public affairs, my formal duties are to publicly share the endeavors of the Department and offer insight whenever possible, especially (but not exclusively) when such can support or sustain critical education and safety messages or help to avoid panic.

While I neither yearn nor pretend to be a Journalist, I am indeed tasked with distributing factual information worldwide in a timely fashion, that may include photographs or recorded soundbytes taken while I am on duty.

While the world of information distribution expands around us at a lightning pace, the camera and microphone have long been considered tools of my assignment. They of course, should not to be used in each and every circumstance (crime scene closeups and images that gratuitously convey human suffering are but two that immediately come to mind)... but they are indeed at our disposal to gather and potentially disseminate information as varied as the St. Patrick's Day Parade to the aftermath of a local earthquake.

While I don't know the scope, magnitude or background of Commissioner Scopetta's declaration, I am pleased to say that the LAFD, like most Fire Departments I know of, expressly prohibits any independent business purpose or manner of personal gain from our sworn duties.

Please know that neither I nor the Department sees any monetary gain from the distribution or publication of the written word, sounds and images that we may gather.

Yes, Firefighters do use photos for training... but I'm not sure how we might surmount the challenge of determining how one completely controls (if one so chooses) the distribution of such routine training images once published.

There is a Department related magazine that anyone is welcome to subscribe to, and our training materials (that include photos), are openly offered on-line for anyone who may have an interest.

In closing, please know that we as an agency at present make no effort to cover the visible FAA registration numbers of an aircraft or visible license plate number of a vehicle involved in a Fire Department response.

What we do *not* do however, is provide the actual names or personally identifiable information of persons we have medically treated or transported.

Such was the case in this truly unfortunate 'hard landing' of a helicopter at Van Nuys airport.

Thanks again for your comments, and please give Commissioner Scopetta our best when you see him!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Firefighter/Specialist
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

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