News choppers back in the Phoenix skies


Belo’s KTVK-TV (Ch. 3, Ind.) began flying a leased helicopter yesterday, meaning that all five TV news operations in Phoenix have resumed flying following the July 27th mid-air collision (7/30/07 TVBR #147) that killed two people from KTVK and two from Scripps’ KNXV-TV (Ch. 15, ABC).

KTVK has purchased a new helicopter, but its pilots are flying a leased one for now while the new chopper is rigged with TV equipment and painted with the station logos. In a video posted on the station website, pilot Bruce Haffner says he is honoring the memory of his friends, Scott Bowerbank and Jim Cox, by continuing to do what they loved, flying and reporting from the air. A second pilot was recently hired by the station.

The National Transportation Safety Board is continuing to investigate the crash and has not made any determination of who was at fault. According to the Arizona Republic newspaper, officials have said that the KTVK helicopter was relatively stationary when the KNXV helicopter moved into it. Both stations and others were following a low-speed police chase at the time. Craig Smith and Rick Krolack from KNXV were also killed in the crash.