To the editor:
With the outrageous decision by Judge Greene on the Kearns midair crash, it is obvious that both he and the judicial system need a lesson on air traffic control.When a pilot elects to fly VFR (Visual Flight Rules) he is saying that he does not need or want guidance from ATC (Air Traffic Control). The whole idea of VFR is so that small-plane pilots can fly when and where they want to without having to follow the instructions of ATC.
They're not required to be in communication with an air traffic controller (as Chester Baker and Paul Lietz were not), and they are responsible to see and avoid all other aircraft.
This procedure is not there to benefit ATC but because small-plane pilots don't want the intrusive air traffic controllers telling them what to do.
Now there are certain traffic areas around busy airports that VFR pilots cannot fly into without a clearance from Air Traffic Control. The spot that the midair collision occurred was one of these areas. Since Baker and Lietz were not talking to Air Traffic Control at the time of the collision, obviously they did not have permission to enter the air space.
And since the rule of VFR flight is to see and avoid other aircraft and they didn't, they broke the rules of VFR flight. Ten people are dead, and what does our judicial system say? The air traffic controller, who never even talked to this airplane, was the most responsible and the families of Baker and Leitz get $700,000.
How does it make you, as a taxpayer, feel knowing that the federal government paid out nearly $2 million because a pilot disregarded the rules of flight? Is the federal government ultimately responsible for every bad thing that happens? That seems to be what Judge Greene is saying.
Air traffic control specialist
Salt Lake Traffic Control Center