Payson Aviation Owner Defends After-Hours Fueling Operation



I am writing to restore the reputations of two fine and very dedicated men who have been defamed by Kelly Crowley's article. The upshot was that Payson Aviation's after-hours fueling operation is deficient, causing rescue delays.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Payson Aviation has always given excellent after-hours fueling service at the airport.
The two veteran Payson Aviation employees responsible, Ben Hitzhusen and Ernie Wilson, are as dedicated to providing good service as any "official" emergency services worker. They deserve apologies from the Roundup, Kelly Crowley, and Mayor Barbara Brewer.

To investigate Brewer's charge, "... Native Air has waited for over an hour...," I contacted Native Air manager Peter Heyer. He said that Payson Aviation's after-hours service had no problems "within recent memory."

The mayor may have witnessed when Native Air dispatchers were mistakenly calling an incorrect phone number attempting to order after-hours fuel. The problem was at Native Air's end, not ours.

The subject of Col. Varljen's charge, "There are times when it is hard to get a hold of them ..." was completely misinterpreted.ol. Varljen told me that he had clearly prefaced his comments to Crowley with the fact that he was NOT talking specifically about Payson Aviation -- he was referring generally to all (fixed base operations) in Arizona.He said that the Civil Air Patrol has always received outstanding service from Payson Aviation.
Wilson and Hitzhusen have exemplary -- no, make that spotless -- records when it comes to refueling aircraft at all hours and in all weather.t was not just my business's good reputation dragged through the mud. These are two dedicated men whose years of hard work in the dead of night have been rewarded with Roundup accusations of poor performance. I will not have their outstanding work be impugned by the groundless accusations of Brewer and the irresponsible journalism of Crowley.
I now challenge them to do the right and honorable thing in order to restore the reputations of my two fine employees:
Mayor Brewer: publicly retract your accusation and apologize in the newspaper.

Kelly Crowley: admit your misinterpretation of Col. Varljen's words and sincerely express your regret in the error.

As for the Payson Roundup -- shame on you for editorial standards that would make Dan Rather blush. How could you have allowed Kelly Crowley to make such a cub-reporter mistake by printing those defamatory quotations without giving the accused -- Payson Aviation -- the opportunity to respond in the article?

Get a dose of "fair and balanced," Roundup.

Robert P. Oswald, Payson Aviation, Payson Municipal Airport

(Editor's note: The purpose of the Jan. 25 article was to shed light on a public safety issue -- the prompt availability of fuel in the event of an emergency. The Roundup in no way implicated the employees of Payson Aviation and they were not named in the story.

On the morning of Jan. 4, there was a four-hour delay in a rescue. That delay may have been reduced had Payson Aviation or the town of Payson had a way to transport helicopter fuel. It is not our intention to place blame on either party, but we hope our report generates discussion as to whether something can be done to improve communication and better facilitate rescue operations in the future.

The Roundup apologizes if Col. John Varljen's comments appeared to directly criticize Payson Aviation. The intention was only to bring public awareness to the issue of public safety and how to improve response times in emergency operations.)

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