Flight Of Fancy

To the Editor,

The subject of Dave Devine's "Mad Whirl" (Tucson Weekly, May 28 ) is one near and dear to me. I've lived and worked in Tucson as a EMS (emergency medical services) helicopter pilot for two and a half years and the UMC "no-fly zone" has been a problem from the start. Constant complaints are received from residents on the north side of the UMC helipad , even while adhering to the strict noise abatement guidelines mandated by the hospital. These procedures bring the aircraft north on Cherry or Campbell then directly east or west to the helipad, venturing over the northern area only when the pilot is required to deviate for safety due to strong winds.

Mailbag Unfortunately, it's often the out-of-town operators that don't comply with the noise abatement procedures, resulting in constant headaches for those of us that do.

Then, a few months ago (I don't recall exactly when), the Channel 4 "Morons" (a name appropriately pinned on them by TW's writing staff) aired a story where they interviewed one homeowner north of the UMC pad who took them into his home and showed the cracks in his ceiling caused (he avers) by the helicopter noise. Give me a break! I wonder if the Channel 4 people realize how uneducated and sloppy it makes them look to broadcast a story like that without any kind of technical insight to back the ridiculous claim made by said homeowner--a step that, if taken by our brilliant broadcast journalists at Channel 4, would have conclusively shown there is no possible way that noise from a helicopter could or did cause those cracks.

Then, just yesterday, my wife asks if I've read the new Weekly--to which I answer nay. I notice her obvious interest in what my reaction will be to the story that she announces is contained within. Deja vu? Is Dave Devine doing exactly as the good folks at Channel 4? C'mon Dave, obtaining one person's opinion without covering all sides does not a story make.

Since you don't have the facts (an apparent dilemma you share with Jim Kluger) I'd like to send some your way.

  1. There have never been two helicopters based at UMC--ever. In fact, no helicopter has been based there for over two years now.

  2. As of June 1, 1997, UMC no longer operates a helicopter.

  3. It's difficult to ascertain exact figures for monthly flights into UMC without consulting all operators that use the pad. Three hundred flights per month, a grossly exaggerated figure, works out to ten flights per day. Anyone living in close proximity to the UMC pad (I happen to be two blocks away) knows there is nowhere near that amount of traffic. The pullquote in the middle of Dave's story tells of three aircraft in the course of a single night landing at the pad. Three flights per night represents the very busiest that the UMC helipad ever gets.

  4. As far as the helicopter (singular--never two) being moved at the behest of the state Legislature: not true. It was moved as a good-neighbor gesture in an attempt to accommodate the pathetic sniveling of the few over-privileged whiners that think their financial or social status somehow excludes them from some inconveniences (like helicopter noise) required of the rest of us mere citizens.

I wonder what they would have to say about the noise of a helicopter landing at 3 a.m. bringing one of their daughters in from a motor-vehicle accident out on I-10 somewhere. Would they want us to divert our flight path and waste precious time at the expense of their critically injured child, who needs to be in the hands of emergency room doctors as soon as possible--the very reason the helicopter was used?

To Jim Kluger, chair of the neighborhood association's helicopter committee:

The first point that your association wishes the hospital to agree to, that only hospital related flights use the helipad, has been adhered to for over two years to date. The only exception are orientation flights for new pilots.

Also, if a new pad were to be constructed on the south side of the hospital, the timeliness afforded by the use of air transport would be negated by the additional time necessary to transport patients by golf cart or other means from one end of the hospital to the other.

I hope this might provide Dave Devine some much needed insight to produce a story that, with his credentials as a journalist, can do what he's obligated to do and provide facts, not mere opinions coming from a skewed side of the fence.

As for the neighborhood association, or more specifically those who incessantly whine: Get a life! The majority of the residents in the area (including me) never complain and don't have this omnipresent problem that so plagues you.

--Dave Wagner

To the Editor.

Regarding Dave Devine's "Mad Whirl" (Tucson Weekly, May 28 ): It appears that Devine did not do any "real" research on this article at all.

First, UMC has no helicopters based at their hospital, or an their landing pad.

Second, UMC does not even own a helicopter base there. In a 150-mile radius of Tucson there are four Air Ambulance providers: Air Care (Life Net), Lifeline, Critical Air and DPS.

Third, between the four of the providers we all wish there were 300 flights a month going to UMC; unfortunately there is not. A local provider with two helicopters based in Tucson (not at UMC) and one in Sierra Vista had 99 flights in May 1998. Approximately one-fourth of those flights went to UMC.

In the Air Ambulance profession we call them "helicopters," not "choppers." I would imagine Devine could not spell helicopter. He probably did not want to take the time to look it up in the dictionary. That would fit his style, seeing how he did not take time to research or look up facts for his article.

I think it would be nice for Devine to do another story for your paper. This time I would suggest he gets all the facts prior to writing an article. As I understand, that's what journalism is all about.

--Michael Pearson

Hollow Reed

To the Editor,

When Bally got his writing assignment to review Lou Reed's latest release, here is what I imagine went through his mind:

"Gee I really don't know much about Reed but I heard 'Walk On The Wild Side.' I know what I'll do. I'll write the stuff that can be found in the press kit and maybe throw in some stuff from old rock and roll books. Hey, maybe I'll even watch that American Masters documentary about Reed for some deep background. Then I will be an expert on Reed and ready to write."

In the future, fella, don't just talk about the tracks, talk about: Who does the playing. The emotions that are evoked. The style of the vocals. The soul. The color. The performance.

You know, the stuff that you can only know about by actually listening to the music, rather than simply parroting back the set list.

And if you don't know what you're talking about, as appears to be the case, then please don't bullshit the reader.

Bottom line is that Bally got paid, got another clip to show his journalism professor and probably got a free CD for writing one of the the blandest reviews I have ever read.

To me that is more depressing than any song Lou could have penned.

--Glenn Weyant

Clown Time Is Over

To the Editor,

Regarding Margaret Regan's "Federal Dispense" (Tucson Weekly, May 14 ): I say no to the visual arts but yes to others like music and literature. It's a waste of money because the clowns are controlling the visual arts. With the 21st century almost upon us, the 20th century won't be remembered for its visual art, but for its computer technology. Until the academies return and order and serious study takes place, there will never be great art. Art to me is sacred and cannot be made on "originality" alone, it's much more complicated than that. Once more, no funding to the visual arts.

--Charles Petrevan


Coke Adds Life!

My brother was unemployed last year so I let him stay at my place while he looked for work. He mostly just lay on my sofa and ate my food. Lucky for him my girlfriend was also living with me, as I found out when I came home from work one day and found the two of them passed out drunk on the sofa, both wearing nothing. I told them to get the fuck out of my house, and then I cleaned up. A week later my brother called and said that he and Shirley wanted to come by to get some of their stuff. I told him to come by on Saturday because I would be out and I didn't want to see their faces. My brother had this stupid bowling trophy that he always kept with him, and it was in my house at that time, so I called a friend and bought a lot of cocaine (it looked like a brick) and hid it in the bowling trophy. Two weeks later I started sending friends to drive up to his house, ring the bell, talk to my brother for a few minutes and then leave. They were doing this all night long. Then I called the police and said I lived across the street from my brother and I thought he was dealing drugs because I saw all these cars coming by and people not staying long. I had had my friends toss little zip-lock bags on the ground around his house, bags with some coke dust in them. The police came, found the bags, searched the house, and now my brother is awaiting sentencing. My girlfriend called begging to come back to me but I told that bitch to drop dead. The whole thing cost me over a thousand bucks, but it feels damn good.

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