We’ve come to realize the opponents to the helicopters stationed at Miramar Marine Corps Air Station will stoop to just about any level to get their points across.
For the past several years, activists have railed against the noise created by helicopters since the Marines took Miramar in 1997. In turn, the Marines as good neighbors listened to the complaints and have acted to the best of their ability to establish flight patterns to ease the noise in the cities to the north and west of Miramar.
Following the tragic crash of a Marine CH-46 Sea Knight in the waters off Point Loma, some of the activists reacted predictably: The alarmist bells and sirens went off while they screamed about the possibility that the chopper could have gone down in someone’s back yard.
Never mind that six Marines and one sailor were killed in the accident as 11 others were plucked from the chilly waters; and never mind the tragedy occurred during a training mission when a wheel of the helicopter caught in the netting of the USNS Pecos, causing the chopper to roll over and crash into the ocean. Their overriding concern was, “What if this happened here?”
In particular, it is the activist group Residents Against Government Encroachment whose reaction was so appalling. Yes, said RAGE’s directors in another publication, they were sorry for the families of loved ones involved in the crash, but it was sheer luck the helicopter went down in the water instead of on land.
The other activist group, Move Against Relocating Choppers Here, reacted with a bit more tact, extending their sympathies with little other comment. Perhaps that’s because MARCH president Jerry Hargarten was lambasted after he offered comments similar to RAGE’s after an earlier Marine helicopter crash.
Yes, indeed, the potential for such an accident exists. But the possibility of an aircraft dropping out of the sky is a reality we have all come to live with since the growth of commercial, recreational and, yes, military aviation over the past 60 years or so. Civilian or military, small or large, propeller or jet, aircraft occasionally plunge to earth.
While we do not agree with the activists’ view on the helicopter-relocation issue, we do support the expression of their beliefs. But the opportunistic use of this kind of tragedy to prop up their position is both morally and ethically despicable.