Parsing reporting

Almost everything wrong with the general media’s coverage of an aviation accident can be found in this story from the San Bernandino (Calif.) Sun. Let’s break it apart for you (assorted pithy comments interspersed below).

Plane registered to Loma Linda man crashes into hillside

Hmmm… What’s the news here? That a plane crashed or that it’s registered to someone in Loma Linda? Is registering an airplane in Loma Linda unsafe?

GLENDORA – A two-seater plane owned by a Loma Linda man landed on a hillside west of Grand Avenue and north of Foothill Boulevard Monday afternoon, authorities said.

The hed says “crashed;” the lede graf says “landed on a hillside.” Which is it?

Los Angeles County officials received a call at 3:32 p.m. about a possible plane crash in Glendora, Los Angeles County Fire Capt. Sam Padilla said.

It seems the possibility has been confirmed.

Emergency crews were airlifted to the side of the hill and found two injured men inside of the plane, he said.

Not bad.

Los Angeles County Fire Dispatch Supervisor Melanie Flores said the plane made a hard landing on an inaccessible hillside near St. Lucy’s Priory High School.

Here we go again: Was it a crash or a “hard landing?” I make hard landings all the time, yet I don’t have to be airlifted out. And the hillside really isn’t inaccessible, is it? I mean, one airplane with two people in it, plus a helicopter, seem to have found it okay.

Flores said a helicopter rescue crew lifted a flight instructor and student to safety. One person was strapped to a backboard. Both men were in stable condition.

The single-engine Cessna 172 was registered to Gene A. Yu, a Loma Linda resident, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Hmmm. Well, the Cessna 172 is a four-seat airplane; above, you wrote it was a two-seater. And kudos for Googling the N-number to find the registration. Maybe add an additional sentence to note it’s not known if Mr. Yu was aboard?

The cause of the crash is still unknown and the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

Of course the cause is still under investigation; it just happened. And we never should use the same word twice in a sentence.

That is all.