Copyrighted material LETTERS
All correspondence should be sent to We reserve the right to edit letters as needed.

JFK Jr. and the hubris of the rich

I just did an experiment. I have a "Pro-Pilot" simulator in my office (the same type used by the Air Force Academy and several airlines -- not a game) that I use to keep up my skills as a pilot and for relief from some of the feudal fascist machinations of our illustrious administration.

It has all the airports in the U.S. and has accurate topography and human-made structures around the airports. I can fly any of five aircraft (Cessna 172, Beech Bonanza, Beech Baron, Beech King-Air and Cessna Citation jet) with exact and working cockpits, sounds and everything. I can set for day, night, dawn and dusk, and I can set haze, varying degrees of cloud cover to shoot instrument approaches down to minimums. It has flight planning capabilities, weight and balance and fuel management.

So I set up a flight from Fairfield County NJ to Martha's Vinyard along the track flown by JFK Jr. I set it for dusk departure with haze and flew the route at 5500 ft. Unlike JFK Jr who started flying about a year and a half ago, I soloed on March 31, 1962 in a Mooney Mark 20A from Boeing Field in Seattle and have continued as a pilot since then with brief hiatuses from flying.

Suffice to say that JFK Jr with a relatively new private license, flying a new high performance Piper Saratoga in which he had few hours, not being instrument rated, demonstrated the high costs of hubris. Indeed I have seen many accidents caused by rich people who thought "If I can afford it, it must mean I can fly it."

First of all, with his limited experience, he had no business flying that route at dusk especially when the apparent haze was immediately evident (even on a "clear night", haze is often not observable until one is in it and then VFR pilots -- even IFR pilots -- often become disoriented. Secondly, he had no business flying that track at less than 7500 ft minimum (he flew it at a reported 5500 ft) and with over water part of the time, single-engine, he was pushing it given his limited experience (no water survival equipment was reported to be on board). Thirdly, he filed no flight plan (common but stupid) and according to reports did not even request flight following from ATC which could have advised him or vectored him to stay VFR and even vectored him to Martha's vinyard. With the equipment on board that aircraft, he could have easily been vectored to an airport at which he could have made an approach consistent with his limited skills. Fourthly, according to recent reports, he decended from 5500 down to 2500 some 12-13 miles out which is way too low, way too soon (he was probably trying to "scud run" or get down below the haze to stay visual and lost his orientation, went into a steep dive possibly with wings not level, in which case the natural instinct (which you do NOT follow -- always follow the instruments) is to pull back on the yoke which intensifies the descent and/or sets up a low-level stall/spin situation.

All he had to do was climb, level his wings, get some altitude and radio ATC and admit his limitations -- not having an instrument rating and unable to stay VFR at low altitudes -- and ask for assistance to be vectored to stay VFR and get down. This happens all the time. But it means admitting your limitations.

As my father used to say: when you bring ego on board, you have an excessive forward CG problem. It is enough of a tragedy that all these resources and air time are being wasted on some celebrity whose main contribution to society appears to be in his last name; that rag of his "George" seems to me to be a lot about nothing. but since they are going to use the air time, why not emphasize the lessons to be learned so that maybe some lives might be saved in the future. Of course that would mean admitting the limitations, ego and hubris of the rich celebs that drive a vacuous star culture.

Jim Craven (Vancouver, WA)

Television Welfare

Thanks for the quality of your excellent publication. Are you planning any coverage of the giveaway of the broadcasting spectrum to the large broadcast companies? It was well covered by Bill Moyers recently on the educational channel. It disgusts me that the media conglomerates were given this free gift from the taxpayers, but that the educational channels are now forced to carry commercials to survive. I'm incensed about it.

Art Hampton

Monitor has presented four stories directly on this topic, the oldest appearing in 1996. CLICK HERE to see a listing.

-- Editor

Comparing N Ireland and Kosovo

The Orange Lodges of British-occupied Ireland are again on the march.

Last year these marches inspired sectarian bigots to burn ten Catholic churches and burned to death three small children in their home. The message of the members of these lodges -- who share the attitude that the American Ku Klux Klan has towards Catholics -- is that the "Protestants" are superior and that Catholics are inferior and will remain so.

Meanwhile, in Kosovo, the British army is vigorously disarming the Kosovo Liberation Army.

For some reason the British government will not assign the British army to the task of disarming these Orange-inspired murder-gangs nor their accom- plices in the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). These were groups the British armed in the first place.

We then have the spectacle of David Trimble -- in violation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement -- demanding that the Provisional Irish Republican Army disarm thereby putting the Catholic/Nationalist population in the jeopardy they were in some 30 years ago when they began to demand their civil and human rights. That jeopardy involved being beaten, shot at and harrassed by the B-Specials, and the RUC -- not to mention the British army itself. It was this violence directed at Catholics that caused the resurrection of the IRA in the first place.

Certainly, it is time that the British government imposed the same kind of discipline on the Orange gangs in the part of Ireland they occupy as they have on the KLA in Yugoslavia.

William Gartland (Rio, WI)

David "Gypsy" Chain killed by logger

By your own admission, the gentleman in question was breaking the law by being on the forest company's land. If he was not in the process of committing a crime and was not on private property whatever the reason he would not now be dead. It is of his own decision he is dead and no one but himself and the tree hugging hippies he was with that he is dead, and they should be held responsible.


Shame on you

I read, with interest, the article about the Kosovo Freedom Fighters. Shame on you for failing to not once mention the name of the person responsible for the illegal invasion of a sovereign country, the war criminal, William Clinton.

Jeffrey Laventure (San Francisco)

Monitor has presented over 60 stories on the NATO war to date. Among those are Clinton's Contras: The KLA, Clinton's Grim Legacy of the Kosovo War, and The Boomer War. Many of the other stories denounce Clinton (as well as the Republican Congress) for this needless war.

-- Editor

Crisis at KPFA

It is sad to see this happening to this great alternative news source, but it reminds me of the time Judi Bari and a bunch of us Albion Nationals took over KZYX after they booted out Beth Bosk and her weekly show. We gathered in the dirt parking lot, and I helped Judi pull the door open for the rebels, against the faint efforts of our friends and neighbors employed inside. We took over the studio for an hour, each in turn stating why we wanted Beth to be allowed to stay.

Of course the Sheriff didn't come and drag us off, there was no news coverage at all, and even though we sparked a small opposition to the new management, the protest was not ongoing. I am glad Beth got a new show on another station. Some of the favorites at KPFA may have the same fate, but it is sad to see one of the last strongholds against the 'sheep making' mainstream media fall to this level.

Navarro Stream (Illinois)

Anti-Environmental Riders on Kosovo Relief Bill

I was hoping you could figure out a good way to publish updates to stories you run. As an example, what happened to the anti-environamental riders on the huricane relief/ Kosovo funding bill? It'd be nice if there were an update on your main page for items like this, especially ones that discuss legislation/ actions/ etc. in progress or upcoming.

Shaun Walker

This reader identifies a serious media problem. Frequently an important story appears and grabs your attention, and then...what? It just disappears, and the reader is left wondering how it ended. This is a problem with all media, although I'll grant that it's far worse in the alternative press.

The tale of the Kosovo relief bill was a perfect example. Demos and Repubs both griped that the other side of the aisle was stuffing the $15 billion bill with pork. Several enviro groups issued PR about the anti-environmental riders.

Then on May 21, Clinton signs it under protest -- and there's hardly a word in the press. We can find a handful of op/ed pieces around the country, but most newspapers only had a summary paragraph or two about it. The NYTimes provided an AP reprint in the late Friday edition only. None of the wire services that we use mentioned it again.

Advocate groups that effectively raise alerts rarely follow through with later analysis. The only exception that we can find was the Wilderness Society, who issued a press release: "...In the end, some anti-environmental riders remained on the Supplemental Emergency Appropriations bill. But several egregious riders -- including Glacier Bay and several weakening the Endangered Species Act -- were removed or eliminated as threats. Unfortunately, two mining riders and one pro-oil rider remain on the bill. Particularly outrageous is a rider introduced by Sen. Slade Gorton (R - Washington) that would reverse a Department of Interior decision prohibiting a large open-pit gold mine from opening in Washington state..."

-- Editor

Comments? Send a letter to the editor.

Albion Monitor July 27, 1999 (

All Rights Reserved.

Contact for permission to use in any format.