Letters: Wednesday, April 3, 2003
Flickering Bright

To the editor: Thanks for the article on Flickerstick at SXSW (HearSay, March 20). I’m sorry I had to miss SXSW this year. It’s good to hear Flickerstick get some attention!! They are an amazing band. I’ve heard from a lot of people who were there that they rocked. Wish I could have been there. Thanks again for the highlights.

Rock On. “Turn around, save the day” — Flickerstick

Dani Gossard

Phoenix, AZ

Wider Bandwidth OK

To the editor: I grew up reading Malcolm Mayhew’s local music column in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and I must say that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with him writing about Denton or Dallas bands (HearSay, March 27, 2003). I don’t mind driving to Dallas or Denton to see a band that he recommends, because they usually turn out to be good. Maybe if there were more quality bands in Fort Worth, he’d write about them. I’ve seen Southpaw Preachers. They’re awful.

Kasey Richards

Fort Worth

CareFlite Critiques

To the editor: Thank you for printing your recent article (“Care Fright,” March 20, 2003) on air ambulances. I was an 11-year employee of CareFlite Fort Worth. Along with several others with as much knowledge and experience as myself, I left the program for all the reasons that were stated by Dave Walton and J.R. Schmidtke.

I continue to serve the public as I have for 26 years in the Fire Service. As Ed entered the picture (the fourth or fifth CEO during my tenure), he made his position very clear: He was not to be questioned, regardless of your opinion on any given matter, nor was his authority to be questioned, or you would be terminated.

As has been said above I left CareFlite along with many other tenured employees due to hiring practices set in place by Ed. Our days were numbered because of our extensive knowledge of CareFlite workings in the past, because we questioned what we perceived to be wrong and did not share the same vision as Ed.

In regards to Philip O’Rear, you will only find a handful of pilots as qualified as him anywhere in the world, with the ability to handle such an aircraft in any given situation that EMS flying requires.

Gary Thompson


Trash journalism, this is the term I use to describe Betty Brink’s article about CareFlite. Readers are led to believe that the Agusta A109 is a totally unsafe helicopter. Did she bother to research the accidents she mentioned in the article on the National Transportation Safety Board web page? If she had, she would have discovered that the two fatal accidents mentioned in the United States were caused by pilot error. In fact, go to the page and do a search for the Agusta A109 and you will fail to see any pattern other than pilot error accidents, not a hint of maintenance-related problems alluded to in the article. The entire article reeked of sour grapes, sympathetic to Bell Helicopter in my opinion. Because CareFlite did not choose to pay full retail price for their new helicopters from Bell/Textron they chose a less expensive option. Bell Helicopter hasn’t come out with a new helicopter design in 30 years and they are paying the price now in the international market. Eurocopter and Agusta have designed and continue designing new, practical and innovative machines that are much more cost effective to operate.

I know it’s difficult for you and the Dallas Observer to find people every other two weeks to beat up on so you can circulate your worthless rag and hope it gets read, but lay off the folks who are out saving lives everyday.

Mark Colborn


To the editor: Thank you for the in-depth story on the air ambulance company. I thoroughly enjoyed the background and insight revealed in the article.

Dave George

VP, Rotorcraft Division Manager

Boundary Layer Research, Inc.

Everett, WA

To the editor: I recently read your article on CareFlite and their helicopter and personnel woes.

I have 20 years in the helicopter business operating all kinds of helicopters, including Agusta. During this time, I have not read an article more damning on a manufacturer or a model of helicopter than this. I do not believe you should have written about aircraft safety issues without more checking on causes and outcome.

I have heard of the accidents mentioned in the article. To my knowledge, not one of those incidents was related to mechanical failure due to the aircraft design or manufacturer. Rather, all but one were a result of pilot error, some in the most common areas of EMS flying such as flight into terrain and poor weather. One mechanical problem leading to a crash was caused by a mechanic incorrectly installing a part. It was the integrity of the Agusta that allowed it to continue to fly far enough to give the pilot time to choose a suitable “crash” landing site.

If you choose to examine EMS accidents worldwide (but particularly in the United States), you will notice far too many accidents — but again, most are attributed to pilot error. If you examine these figures further, you will notice that Agusta has probably the best safety record of all types. It would have been appropriate to seek explanation or comment from Agusta on safety and reliability issues before printing this article. Thank you and best regards.

John Skeen

Warners Bay

New South Wales

Editor’s note: Calls seeking comment from officials at Agusta and OmniFlite, the local Agusta dealer, were not returned. Records show that some Agusta crashes in the U.S. were put down to human error; for others, causes were not determined. One is still under investigation.

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