Throughout the day I have seen a number of thoughtful comments to the perspective piece I posted this morning.
My day has been filled with discussions around what happened in Austin. I note from the comments here that there are a wide range of views and I wanted to close this day off with just a few comments.
1. You should know from the moment this story broke, our team at AOPA has been communicating with the media. We provided background and perspective as the story was developing and as we were all learning the facts.
2. A number of interviews have been conducted yesterday and today, including a live interview I did today on FOX NEWS and a second interview on CNN. We found the coverage around these interviews to be fair. We did these today as the media turned from covering a fast breaking news story to sorting out what it all means.
3. While we were briefing the media from our Frederick headquarters, our Washington office immediately began briefing Members of Congress and their staff. We want those who feel “something must be done” to understand that we are already very regulated and that the use of aircraft in commiting suicide in extremely rare.
4. Now, with regard to the use of terms….suicide is what this was. An individual took his own life using an aircraft. Some of the comments on the AOPA NOW blog want to debate the use of terms. Sorry, this is not productive. I am not sure just where people want to go with the description of this unusual and isolated event, but we wanted to be clear just how we viewed this event and what we thought it should be called.
5. As for those who assume this means more regulation, I do not that think this will be the case. There are no regulations that would have prevented a person so determined to end his life in an aircraft from doing just that. And, the point made in the posting this morning is that while suicide attempts number in the hundreds of thousands, the use of an aircraft in such acts is very rare…less than twice a year on average…I might add, this was something that news organizations found significant.
As the day ends, this story which involved a deeply troubled person and a tragedy that took two lives is being treated for what it is by most of the media organizations we have spoken with as well as officials in government.
Our job was to make sure that AOPA members were well served through professional media relations efforts and government relations efforts. I am pleased with the fine work that dozens of people did over the past 36 hours.
As always, I appreciate the words of praise and carefully consider the constructive suggestions. This was not the first and certainly not the last time careful consideration will be required during a difficult situation. I do appreciate the feedback and the level of engagement from all who shared their thoughts during the course of the day.