View Full Version : Worst and Best TV reporting on aviation events

17th May 2014, 22:59
I'm sure you have all seen aviation experts on TV.

I would love to start a thread and have people express the pluses and minuses on those people on the networks, some of which you have to pay for.

I am placing this in JETBLAST on the odd hope that it will remain and not be thrown out.

Come on folks. Tell it like it is.

There is that british sounding chap. You know the one. Screaming and loud, yet doesn't seem to have a pilot's license.


17th May 2014, 23:31
I think with the limited info given to him before he's plonked in front of the camera David Learmount is very good.

17th May 2014, 23:35
The Australian guy on TV who comments on the mh370 aircraft.

Graham someone ?

Thread on the Australian section.

17th May 2014, 23:51
Going back awhile, (January 26, 1990),Jack Cafferty was the only reporter who came close to reality when the Avianca jet ran out of fuel and crashed on the north shore of Long Island.

When young Kennedy flew into the Atlantic near Martha's Vineyard, a weatherman named Nick Gregory had flown the identical route the prior day in a light twin and provided much useful, non hysterical factual information.

17th May 2014, 23:55
In the US, I don't think there is a "best", just decreasing levels of "worse". :p

18th May 2014, 00:08
We see a lot of Greg Feith on UK television, he seems to know which way is up.

18th May 2014, 00:19
We see a lot of Greg Feith on UK television

Bumped into him in Seattle waiting for rental cars. Seemed like a good chap. Swapped a few stories with him.

18th May 2014, 00:22
While watching the local Saturday-morning news, one of the anchors said there was heavy fog at the airport and arrivals/departures may be delayed.

Her co-anchor then piped in with, "What? Can't those airplanes land and take-off by themselves?" His tone insinutated that pilots were basically useless t!ts.

I couldn't hit-up my ATPL sidekick for a good rebuttal to this ignoramus (because he was on a trip) but remembered a lot of what he had told me previously.

So, emailed the anchor and explained it as best I could - that the FAA and TC have mandated certain visual minimums. I also explained that even if technology can land an airplane, the pilot still has to visually navigate his/her way to the gate. (When the ATPL sidekick is upgraded to a larger plane, I know he is more nervous about taxiing than flying that airplane, at least initially).

Anyway, I was surprised when the anchor acknowledged my email. He said he would "try to remember that in future." :ugh:

18th May 2014, 00:31
ahhhh.....Greg Feith. Now, that chap isn't hard to look at -
on or off the ground. :E

18th May 2014, 01:06
David Learmount should be put out to grass

18th May 2014, 01:12
There are times when even I,as a simple S.L.F. feel that the following applies.

Infinite monkey theorem - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem)


18th May 2014, 01:21
Agree about Greg Feith. :ok: He used to be a member of another forum that no longer exists. Top bloke.

18th May 2014, 03:30
how about by network or country.

I don't know some of these folks.

quest though is a pain. are all british folk like him?

18th May 2014, 03:40
In the US, I don't think there is a "best", just decreasing levels of "worse". :p
Ditto... CNN is arguably the worst, but they are ALL bad.
Some of the so-called experts that CNN uses are laughably bad - they would flunk first year engineering.
Just one example of CNN 'experts': After that teen apparently stowed away in the wheel well of a 767 and somehow made it to Hawaii alive, they were interviewing some 'expert'. Anchor asks expert 'isn't there a hatch in the wheel well that he could have opened and crawled into the cargo hold?' "Expert" reply was "I don't know about that" :ugh::ugh:

18th May 2014, 03:54
Jim Clancy seems to report fairly. While some of his colleagues go for the sensational, he tends to stay with the facts, albeit at times the news is a little dry. Well, no quick path to building a solid reputation. Keep it up, Jim.

18th May 2014, 04:34
"Mayday" is documentary style for after the accident or incident but quite well done.

18th May 2014, 04:48
[QUOTE]"Mayday" is documentary style for after the accident or incident but quite well done. [\QUOTE]

In the US, it's in the Smithsonian channel and called "Air Disasters". I've seen episodes that were about accidents/incidents for which I had first had knowledge, and I have no issues with the factual accuracy. Sometimes a little to sensationalistic (e.g. too much 'we're all going to die') but overall reasonably well done.

18th May 2014, 07:20
There is that british sounding chap. You know the one. Screaming and loud, yet doesn't seem to have a pilot's license.
Much as I dislike Hurry Talker, that's very unfair. I mean, he's pretending to understand motor racing, not aviation.


18th May 2014, 07:56
This is not "TV reporting," but I though the producers showed a definite bias towards the KLM crew, particularly the captain, who is portrayed as a real bas***d. The Pan Am crew almost have halos above their heads.

Regardless of whose fault it was, the death and destruction is hard to watch. I couldn't take it - especially the pathos and hopelessness of the KLM airplane as it attempted to clear the Pan Am.

Fly safe, all.

Crash of the Century - YouTube

B Fraser
18th May 2014, 08:34
Much as I dislike Hurry Talker, that's very unfair. I mean, he's pretending to understand motor racing, not aviation.

I hope that smiley means you have your tongue firmly in your cheek. The man is an expert on two and four wheeled racing while remaining an extremely modest and self-effacing chap. I recommend you read his biography and think again. Even if you don't change your mind, you will have read a really good book.

Back to aviation, Raymond Baxter's commentary from Farnborough is the stuff of legend. As a former WWII pilot who (IIRC) even tried to get a shot at a V2 as it lifted off, his knowledge and understatement was pure magic.

Thinking about it, Muddley and Raymond are chalk and cheese in terms of style but I could listen to them for hours.

Does anyone know who was narrating the recent documentary on the Pan Am Lockerbie event ? The chap either knew nothing about aviation or dumbed it down to the lowest common denominator.

B Fraser
18th May 2014, 08:41
Here's Raymond Baxter in full flow. Listen to the man and you'll understand why I rate him as one of the best aviation commentators there will ever be.


Shaggy Sheep Driver
18th May 2014, 11:03
It was Raymond Baxter's wingman who took a pot shot at a V2 as it rose up in front of them. Luckily (for Baxter and wingman) he either missed or the shots were ineffective.

Who can forget Baxter's commentry at the flight of the first Concorde prototype in 1969 ".....nose coming up.... she's airborne.... she flies!"

Ascend Charlie
18th May 2014, 11:51
Recently in Oz, a drunk enroute to Bali banged on the cockpit door, thinking it was the toilet door locked and unavailable.

The pilot activated the emergency procedures, the drunk was seated, but the Indonesian officials went totally overboard, with full hijack response. Army, police, flashing lights all over the tarmac, and the news coverage went for 4 hours. The reporters had nothing to say, but the TV execs made them stay live on air, so the garbage they came out with was astounding. Asking anybody walking past why they thought the aircraft had been hijacked.


***Indonesian for "rubbish!"

18th May 2014, 15:00
I hope that smiley means you have your tongue firmly in your cheek.Naw, more like this:


18th May 2014, 16:58
BBC's Mathew Amroliwalla seems to call every military transport a "Hercules". Probably distracted by Jane Hill's magnificent lady bumps. :E

18th May 2014, 17:32
Too much first hand knowledge destroys the fun of watching these TV programs. I would rather mess around here in PPrune :E

There is a relationship between some of these "talking heads" immediately following a Prang and the later documentaries like "Mayday" and "Air Disaster".

The better technical communicators named in this thread above, do both adequately by "knowing their stuff" and quieting down off-the-wall speculation.

Surprisingly I haven't seen names like John Cox, Sully nor John Goglia show up in this thread yet. To be honest, these guys are not all experts in the subject questions being put to them by interviewers at the time. What they do have in common are their behind the scene communication links in the industry where they pick up on the issues the main thoughts before they even stick their face in front of a camera.

Not all of these behind-the-scene folks are either great communicators with John Q public at his level, or wish to be. None of them, in my view, wish to extend themselves into idle speculation short of offering experienced based opinions on the facts at the time.

Even in these later documentaries (Mayday, Air Disaster, etc.) there is a good deal of vetting going on behind the scenes. The producers aren't dumb either in regards to who they select to be on camera. Many phone calls are made around the world to known experts and even if the best knowledge person is unavailable they still bounce ideas off them over the phone before putting on the personages they finally go with on-air.

They do have a script and actors to fill in the pathos and excitement for their viewers (non-PPruners ?) Every now and then their early script gets blown away when during a filmed interview the expert disagrees with the direction and refuses to support it. but the public need not know :)

18th May 2014, 18:07

I have no regard whatsoever for john cox. Goglia at least was on the ntsb if memory serves as well as being a good mx guy.

sully is more of a media darling than anything else.

18th May 2014, 18:42
CNN seems to have the worst no nothing aviation nitwits. CNN is on its last legs I think

They feature in their front line the following:

Richard Quest who's main claim to fame was getting caught in central park dressed in bdsm gear and with a sex toy of suspicious origin. Drug related.

Mary Schiavo aka "Scary Mary" lawyer and political hack

James Hall former head of the NTSB, another political hack

Peter Goles another former head of NTSB political hack

These people make you cringe

On other networks some credible specialists are below!

Those I can actually listen to are Greg Feith and Sully Sulenberger who actually know what they are talking about.

I did see Greg Feith asked about comments made by a former NTSB and he diplomatically rolled his eyes!

18th May 2014, 21:28
I was very impressed with the Australian gentlemen who handled a press conference early on in the search for the missing Malaysian A-380.

18th May 2014, 21:33
You mean the MH370, the 777 ?

Are you referring to the guy from AMSA ? (Aust Maritime Safety Authority)

Yes, I think he came across very well indeed, set the tone at the start
as to how, what, where information would be presented.

18th May 2014, 22:33
You can't turn a reporter into an aviation expert, any more than you can turn them into a rugby commentator. You have to, in some fields, train experts to be reporters.
However, these days the media don't give a flying f#ck about expertise, so they won't give experts in their field a chance. Also, given the planetary-sized egos, the media hates to admit that someone can do something else for twenty years then become a reporter in two.

Raymond Baxter appealed to everybody, experts, support, laymen and kids. How many others can you say that about?

Thanks, B Fraser :ok:
I remember that air show commentary from 1983. It made me want to fly every one of those aircraft. I was nearly posted Buccaneers, and only sat in the Mossie and Lanc, but I flew the rest!

18th May 2014, 22:41
Fox 3

Two years ?

The standard of reporting nowadays, I reckon you could get a decent, well educated person half way there with a month or two of media training.

Most "reporters" now just regurgitate some words in front of a camera.

"You can't turn a reporter into an aviation expert,"
But with the information at the fingertips nowadays, you have to wonder
why they don't have at least half a brain to look things up. It's not like they
have to go back to the office and look up the whatever the books were called.

18th May 2014, 22:48
Well, agreed; but we want them to be good. Let's face it, an expert elsewhere who is a novice reporter is going to make mistakes, and that needs tolerance and some effort putting in by the media.

OTOH, I agreed to commentate on the 1993 Folkestone Air Show (BBC Radio) in the hotel bar the night before. My training consisted of my fellow aircrew and myself (I insisted on my buddies being part of the cost) drinking to the limit of the BBC expense account. I can tell you that that is not a small number, but with years of fantastic RAF training, we managed it!;)

To be fair, I had done the RAF Media presentation course - a whole day!

18th May 2014, 22:56

It was interesting watching the MH370 search where you had Aircraft Captains (Fl Lt's) (and others), having just piloted a 9 - 10 hour flight (so add a few hours for preparation before hand ???) walk down the stairs and straight to the media to give an impromptu talk about what happened.

I think they did a pretty good job of it.

18th May 2014, 23:04
I'm not sure if they had been given training, or had just watched a few guys who have been given training, or were just naturally good at it. As long as you avoid a few common errors and follow a few principles, you're fine.

Twenty years ago there wasn't a legacy. I remember a few friends of mine getting a camera shoved in their face on return from bombing Iraq; not pretty for them or the viewer. We've also learned that "Dog's Knob!!" is not an appropriate comment when you've just stuffed an LGB into the cab of an Iraqi truck crossing a bridge. Not if it's going to be broadcast,anyway :E

Rule 1 of 21st Century Comms - it'll end upon YouTube eventually!

18th May 2014, 23:39
is it just me, or does it seem that most everyone on pprune is from England.

18th May 2014, 23:43
It depends on what thread / forum you are on.

But on JB and the Military forums, it can come across like that.

19th May 2014, 08:48
is it just me, or does it seem that most everyone on PPRuNe is from England.
Ah, but nearly everyone in England these days is from nearly everywhere else.

19th May 2014, 09:22

19th May 2014, 09:49
I was very impressed with the Australian gentlemen who handled a press conference early on in the search for the missing Malaysian A-380.
I'm just as unimpressed with some members of this forum that don't even know the difference between a B777 and A380 even when the former has been in the news for 2 solid months :p Are you aiming for a job in the media ;) perhaps :ok:

Alloa Akbar
19th May 2014, 10:11
This thread seems perfectly timed.. Bunch of talking heads, no aviation knowledge, people who know bugger all about aircraft.. Oh yes, Farnborough 2014 is just around the corner!!

And before you all start arguing, yes I know that there will be some proper aviation people there, but trust me, walk the halls, talk to many of the companies there and then tell me how many true aviation men you meet..

19th May 2014, 21:40
I have to give credit to the australian broadcasting company for getting this interview with the former chief pilot of malaysian airlines


the interviewee is very compelling, though I disagree with one thing.

24th May 2014, 00:27

Richard Quest, sounding off with the odd crew of rene marsh, mary schiavo ( who knows more than quest, that's for sure).

shaking my head.