Hey... Is that...? Naw... Couldn't Be... JIM CAMPBELL at
Sun 'n Fun????
The birds are still
singing. Great chasms have not opened up in the earth. Society's
precepts are more or less intact (no matter what Jerry Falwell may
tell you). Rampaging hordes of Visigoths have been amazingly quiet.
The four horsemen of the Apocalypse are nowhere to be seen... AND
Jim Campbell has been to Sun 'N Fun. Mind you, a heavy frost has
been forecast for hell... but that's only a rumor.
And.. best of all, Pigs haven't flown.
In the company of TV cameras, a staff lawyer, news photographers
and about a dozen journalists (overall), Jim Campbell showed up at
Sun 'n Fun, asked to be registered as a media person... and was
But... not turned away.
After a phone call to
Sun 'n Fun's Pat Boyce and about ten minutes of what had to furious
discussions up at the SnF Puzzle Palace (where the staffers
indicated that senior SnF persons had "made a decision," SnF
Volunteer Greg Abbott (with teeth gritted) did pronounce that
Campbell would be allowed to buy a ticket and go to the Fly-In.
After standing in a line of all of two people, Campbell ponied up
his Visa card, accepted the customary "we own your soul"
wristband... and went in.
After four years of personal attacks against him, numerous legal
skirmishes and God only knows how many falsehoods, legal violations
and so forth, Sun 'n Fun's principals boiled down to... 30 bucks.
Yes, we were overbilled.
OK... enough of that. For now, some reason has prevailed and
while a local reporter intoned that "Sun 'n Fun looked pretty dumb
today," we disagree. This move actually made (some) sense. For all
that has happened, they avoided a major media confrontation, Jim
got to do his job, and they avoided the possibility of Federal
charges had they also kept him out of the FAA building (as SnF had
previously threatened -- to the puzzlement of the US Attorney's
office and the ACLU). Yes, we're hearing rumors that someone has
said it was all a mistake and that a banning order is still in
place, but even Sun 'n Fun can't be THAT stupid. If they caved
before the cameras, but changed their minds after they left, our
media brethren will have a field day.
Regardless; Jim went about his duties unaccosted, visited the
Sun 'n Fun Press center, made a press conference or two and enjoyed
a LOT of double-takes from those who saw him and swore they didn't
know he had a twin.
Dozens of industry
heavyweights were glad to see him, relieved that the mess seemed to
be over, but still noted that the whole thing had been a pretty
heavy embarrassment to those of us who love aviation and want to
see it present it's best face to the public. Yes, it's pretty
cheesy to not issue a press pass... but we're willing to take it
one step at a time. If cooler heads have prevailed, they ought to
have warmed up a bit more by next year and maybe Jim will get the
Press Pass his status as a leading aviation journalist justifies
(not to mention that little First Amendment thingie). Besides, at
least they got a real-live paying customer out of the deal, and
with the bad weather early in the week and other issues that have
been keeping people away from Sun 'n Fun (especially that $30 gate
fee) in large numbers, they can use the boost. Best of all,
Campbell's got a receipt that he can frame for posterity.
Well, enough of that. If, indeed, things have gotten sorted out,
that's fine by us. We're happy to leave it at that. All we asked
was that the law be obeyed, the Constitution respected, that we get
to do our jobs (ALL of us) and for them to understand that the many
criticisms we raised (and will continue to raise, as appropriate)
are not designed to tear down this event, but to bring such matters
to EVERYONE's attention so that fixes may be made. We HAVE seen
SOME fixes and/or adjustments to certain risky behaviors and if we
had something to do with that, cool. But the most important thing
is that events like these be exposed to critical review, that
safety be foremost in everyone's mind, that aviation be portrayed
as positively as it deserves, and that we work together,
collectively, with as little rancor and heartburn as possible.
In the aviation biz, folks, it's us against the world, and every
time we fight amongst ourselves, it detracts from efforts that
could have improved our lot elsewhere. We really do hope this is
over... we were sick of writing about it, we were sick of dealing
with it, and we were sick of the embarrassment our community
experienced over it (especially to Jim, who NEVER backed down). So,
for the moment, we're looking forward to getting back to writing
about aerospace and aviation. What a concept...