Columbia County has an airport authority. It's a useless board, appointed years ago with the possibility of the county getting an airport.
Specifically, at one time, there was talk of closing Daniel Field and moving its operation to Columbia County.
Maybe that's what William Tomlinson was thinking about Wednesday morning when he glided his Cessna 150 through and under utility lines on Washington Road and landed during lunch hour.
Tomlinson was headed for Daniel Field from Columbia when his engine quit; one sidewalk aviator opined that the prop was off-balance and made the plane shut down. Federal investigators will study it for a few months and tell us what happened long after most of us have forgotten about it.
I doubt Rev. Bill Harrell will soon forget it. He tells me he was just sitting at his desk at Abilene Baptist Church, typing on his computer, when he looked out his window that opens to Washington Road.
Right above the traffic, he saw Tomlinson's airplane swoop across the window view; seconds later, the lights at the church went out, and Harrell quickly figured out the two events were connected.
Sure enough, Tomlinson's plane took out electricity along Washington Road when it clipped a power line, just before the veteran pilot threaded the needle between the bottom of the traffic signals at Bobby Jones Expressway and the tops of cars stopped at the red light. Incredible.
Those drivers, including Augustan June Glover, whose Chevrolet Suburban was leapfrogged by Tomlinson's plane as it touched down, probably ought to pay a visit to Brother Bill at Abilene or the church of their choice this Sunday. Tomlinson's hands may have been on the wheel of that Cessna, but like the bumper-stickers say, God was his co-pilot.
It's miraculous enough that anyone can drive along Washington Road and come away intact. Just imagine landing an airplane in the middle of it.
Maybe that airport authority isn't so useless after all.
Ever since Greenbrier High School opened, The News-Times has been accused at various times of being "biased" in favor of the Wolfpack. It's expected; a new school generally is going to generate more news coverage, and one with successful sports teams is going to hit the spotlight more often, too.
Greenbrier won a state baseball title in its first year of existence. Over the long haul, its athletic programs have logged more success than the rest of the county's high schools. All of that has meant lots of well-deserved coverage.
Some folks at the county's other high schools, many of them envious of that success, occasionally see that coverage in The News-Times as "biased" in favor of Greenbrier. It's nonsense:
First, the newspaper's office is full of graduates from Harlem, Evans and Lakeside. None of our staff attended Greenbrier or has family members there.
Second, we actually checked the numbers: A one-year analysis of our sports pages showed coverage amazingly proportionate to each school's size. Greenbrier, the second-largest school, had the most stories in the past 12 months, but that was skewed by the softball team's state-championship run in the fall.
So, not only is there no evidence of any "bias," but no reason for it to even exist. Why is the perception there? Sports columnist Ashley Brown, in his column today on page 13, analyzes it perfectly -- and he's a graduate of Lakeside, the school most often spawning the "bias" comments.
I don't expect it to change anyone's mind, but it should at least make them think a little before repeating that "bias" nonsense.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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