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Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
3:25 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Friday Catchall: Planes, fires, soul — sad day

This photo shows a damaged house after a plane crashed in Payson, Utah, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. A Utah man flew the small plane into his own house early Monday just hours after he had been arrested for assaulting his wife in a nearby canyon where the couple went to talk over their problems, authorities said. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

This photo shows a damaged house after a plane crashed in Payson, Utah, Monday, Aug. 13, 2018. A Utah man flew the small plane into his own house early Monday just hours after he had been arrested for assaulting his wife in a nearby canyon where the couple went to talk over their problems, authorities said. (Leah Hogsten/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP)

The Friday Catchall:

• PLANES — In a world of travel, in which some people fear going by airplane, the argument is the ratio of safe flights far exceeds crashes compared with drivers and car accidents.

Well, something is amiss.

In the past week, two people have gained access to airplanes and crashed them.

One was the Horizon Air (a former provider to the Prescott airport) plane in Seattle; a ground agent stole a plane and he crashed it Friday in a wooded area nearby. His maneuvers — dramatic loops over Puget Sound — reportedly baffled his employer.

The other happened Monday; a man in Utah, after fighting with his wife, crashed his employer’s small plane into their home. His wife and child escaped unharmed.

At first blush, access or ability to do whatever you want with a plane is in question. Federal investigators are particularly interested in the Horizon Air incident.

Secondly, planes suddenly meeting the ground generally results in catastrophic carnage. We’re lucky only two people —the pilots — died in these two crashes.

It becomes even more relevant when one considers the ads proclaiming “you too can have a car that quickly converts to an airplane,” for only $250,000. You’ve likely seen them on TV or social media; however, have you also asked the question: what kind of training will that require? Let’s hope more than a driver’s license.

I am not a fan of air travel — I do it only when I have to. The law of averages seems to be leveling out.

• WILDFIRES — News Alert from Thursday: As wildfires continue to choke California and other Western states, the Trump administration pledged to work more closely with state and local officials to prevent wildfires from ever starting.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the Forest Service and other agencies will step up efforts to cut down small trees and underbrush, and set controlled fires to remove trees that serve as fuel for catastrophic blazes, including a series of deadly fires that have spread through drought-parched forests and rural communities in California.

That means more prescribed (or controlled) burns.

Many people cheer that prospect, but some locally complain that the smoke hazards outweigh the benefits to the forests.

I am on the side of improving the health of the forests, and consequently our safety living near them. At the same time, forest officials need to continue following Arizona Department of Environmental Quality air pollution guidelines.

• RESPECT — Aretha Franklin, who died Thursday from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76, was the undisputed “Queen of Soul.” She long ago settled any arguments over who was the greatest popular vocalist of her time.

I will never forget Franklin’s cameo in the 1980 movie “The Blues Brothers,” an unforgettable performance of “Think.”

Her gifts were a multi-octave mezzo-soprano, she was sophisticated – almost eccentric – and, as a review stated, had “the courage to channel private pain into liberating song.”

Sad day.

• PICK OF THE WEEK — (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): The sixth annual Sharlot’s WineFest, 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18, at Sharlot Hall Museum, 415 W. Gurley St. This fundraiser provides a festive addition to the yearlong celebration of the Museum’s 90 years since its founding in 1928. www.sharlot.org/wine-fest or 928-445-3122.

Tim Wiederaenders is the senior news editor for The Daily Courier and Prescott News Network. Follow him on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333, ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.