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ACRO E-mail Archive Thread: [Acro] AVflash (Special Edition) (fwd)


Thread: [Acro] AVflash (Special Edition) (fwd)

Message: [Acro] AVflash (Special Edition) (fwd)

Follow-Up To: ACRO Email list (for List Members only)

From: "Dr. Guenther Eichhorn" <gei at>

Date: Wed, 24 Jul 2002 20:46:53 UTC


Hi all,

I just received this email.  I am posting it to the ACRO list so 
it will be included in the ACRO email list archive as requested 
by the lawyers.


Dr. Guenther Eichhorn        |  E-mail, Internet:
Project Manager              |  gei at
Astrophysics Data System     |  Phone: 617-495-7260
SIMBAD US Gateway            |  Fax:   617-496-7577
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
60 Garden Street, MS-83
Cambridge, MA 02138

------- Forwarded Message

Date:    Wed, 24 Jul 2002 15:52:13 -0400
From:    Rick Durden <RDurden at>
To:      Webmaster <gei at>
Subject: AVflash (Special Edition)

We represent AVweb, a defendant in the lawsuit, Arthur Alan Wolk v. AVweb,, filed in the Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, 
which was referenced on your site at:; and

The suit has been settled and the attached apology has been sent by AVweb 
to its subscriber.

This e-mail is to respectfully request that you remove any offensive 
referencs to Mr. Wolk from your site and/or publish the attached apology so 
as to right a wrong done to Mr. Wolk.

				Very truly yours,
				Richard J. Durden
				Tolley, VandenBosch, Korolewicz & Brengle, P.C.

- -------------Forwarded Message-----------------

From:	AVweb Support, INTERNET:AVflash at
Date:	7/19/02  5:07 AM

RE:	AVflash (Special Edition)

- -----------------------------------------------------------------------
 AVflash            Special Edition              Friday, July 19, 2002
- -----------------------------------------------------------------------



As you know aviation attorney, Arthur Alan Wolk sued AVweb and certain
of our subscribers for libel.  While we initially felt that we were
justified in our characterizations of Mr. Wolk and his activities, it
has become apparent that many of our subscribers disagree with us, and
others with whom we have consulted believe we did libel him.

One of Mr. Wolk's complaints was that we did not supervise our chat room
to prevent libelous comments about him being published by our
subscribers.  We have corrected that.  Another of Mr. Wolk's complaints
was that our characterizations instigated some of our subscribers to
libel him.  We will no longer characterize matters in such a way as to
bring apparent discredit upon anyone.

Mr. Wolk also complained that we didn't gather the facts before
"reporting" events that concerned him on AvFlash.  He is correct and in
the future we shall make certain that we see the black and white instead
of reporting on mere rumor or innuendo.

While the defense of Mr. Wolk's lawsuit has been expensive, he
nonetheless has been gracious enough to settle with us for a payment to
charity.  In fact, even in settlement negotiations, when there was a
demand for money, it was always to be contributed to charity, none for
Mr. Wolk himself.  He steadfastly insisted that his lawsuit was not
about money and we have come to believe him.

One of the terms of our settlement with Mr. Wolk was that we investigate
the facts and issue a point for point retraction of the things said
about him to or by our subscribers.  We have investigated and we have
consulted with attorneys who because of their own aviation practices
know Mr. Wolk personally and professionally.  We have been assured that
Arthur Alan Wolk is perhaps the most highly regarded aviation lawyer in
the country, if not the world.  He has never been known to break his
word, either written or verbal, even in the most hotly contested cases.
One of our lawyers informed us that Mr. Wolk's word is well known to be
completed trusted.  We are also informed that aircraft manufacturers,
their insurers, their defense counsel, whether they agree with Mr. Wolk
or not, would never question his honest belief in the rightness of his
clients' cases or his attempts to honestly plead their causes before
judges and juries.  In fact, one of the things most respected about Mr.
Wolk's word is that he thoroughly tests his theories, analyzes accidents
and the components he feels contributed to them and looks at the
accidents through his pilot-trained eyes.  The zeal with which he
prosecutes his cases is also highly respected.

In one of our articles about Mr. Wolk, we criticized him for suing the
NTSB and Allied Signal about the report of his own accident.  We
suggested that money was the motive.  The truth is that when we wrote
that piece we hadn't read his complain, knew little or nothing of the
reasons he filed it and weren't familiar with the particulars of his
accident.  In a complete departure from accepted journalistic practices,
we didn't telephone Mr. Wolk or get a copy of his complaint so we really
didn't know enough to legitimately characterize it in any manner.  It
turns out, now that we have seen it, Mr. Wolk complained that Allied
Signal investigators consulted by the NTSB falsely mislead the NTSB how
the fuel control in his jet fighter operated so Wolk alleges the focus
of the investigation was misdirected.  Wolk also complained that the
NTSB after agreeing that the first investigation was sloppy and
inaccurate again published the withdrawn NTSB report on the web.  This
occurred even after three new investigators had concluded mechanical
failure was the cause of the accident.  What Mr. Wolk was suing about
was not money, it was to protect the families of other victims of
airplane crashes who are dead and can't speak up for themselves from
being victimized by component manufacturers who are trying to protect
themselves from liability instead of helping the NTSB.  What we did was
wrong and violated not only Mr. Wolk's rights, but journalistic ethics
as well.

In another article we called Mr. Wolk a "self-proclaimed safety
advocate".  This was in response to a press release he issued where he
criticized the FAA for refusing to order a fix on aircraft fuel tanks to
prevent explosions like TWA 800 because it was cheaper to pay the claims
for the dead people than to fix the problem.  We were wrong!  In truth,
we learned that the night of TWA 800's crash, Mr. Wolk, who had
investigated fuel system safety for many years, was the lone expert on
MSNBC to suggest the fuel system explosion and not a terrorist act
brought that aircraft down.  It turns out he was the only one who was
correct.  We reported that following the NTSB hearings on that crash,
Mr. Wolk was trolling for clients in the media coverage that followed.
In truth, Mr. Wolk was not at those hearings and was recovering from
injuries he suffered in the crash of his own aircraft.  He did not
represent any victims of TWA 800.  We were wrong again.

Our investigation reveals that far from being a self-proclaimed safety
advocate, Arthur Wolk is regarded as an aviation safety expert and
advocate by virtually ever major news organization in this country and
many throughout the world.  He was given these titles not by himself,
but by others after time after time he correctly identified the causes
of aircraft accidents long before the NTSB.  In fact, Mr. Wolk calls
himself a pilot and avaiation lawyer, both of which are true.  The other
appellations came solely from those who were impressed by his accuracy
and credibility and were not self-proclaimed.  Our investigation reveals
that Mr. Wolk is considered an expert in the causes of aircraft
accidents by many more than just the media including pilots,
manufacturers, aircraft owners, insurance companies, judges and juries.
His work in identifying correctly the Boeing 737 rudder problem is being
rewarded now by the FAA ordering a complete re-design of the rudder
control system on that aircraft.

We have also investigated statements made about Mr. Wolk in our chat
room.  They were appalling and untrue.  We should have acted immediately
to filter them and prevent them from being published.  We now appreciate
the power a site such as ours has.  A power to do good for aviation and
our subscribers, and the power to do harm to people like Arthur Wolk.
We have learned a very powerful lesson and we are sorry.  It will not
happen again to Mr. Wolk or to anyone else if it's in our power to
prevent it.

We began this piece with a statement that Mr. Wolk's lawsuit against us
has been withdrawn.  He has demanded no money, but we acknowledge that
what happened here on AVweb and our chat room has damaged him.  After
our investigation was completed and we learned the facts, we can
honestly say he did not deserve that.  We learned, for example, that he
has worked since he was twelve years old, first in a hobby shop selling
model airplanes; that he came from a poor family raised by a single
mother and worked his way through school.  We learned that he worked a
full time job while he went to college and law school on full academic
scholarships.  After acquiring his first new airplane and experiencing
multiple equipment failures, he realized that maybe pilots who died in
crashes also experienced mechanical failure and just couldn't defend
themselves because "dead men tell no tales".  That's what influenced him
to limit his practice to air crash litigation and most often to be the
voice of pilots who could not longer speak for themselves.  Whether you
agree with what Mr. Wolk does, and many of our subscribers do, his
motives appear, to us, to be honest.  If we or our subscribers made him
appear dishonest, that was a disservice to him and the people he
represents and for that we apologize.

We thought that in fairness to Mr. Wolk, even though we know we can't
fix it completely, we should publish some comments from his clients
whose loved ones were lost in airplane crashes and others who know his
work.  Some are pilots and some are not, but perhaps they can give a
perspective that we didn't publish.  So we ask that you take the time to
read these as we have.  Perhaps a balance can then be struck which is
what we should have done in the beginning.

Mr. Wolk, in behalf of the ownership, publishers, editors and to the
extent we speak for the subscribers of AVweb, we apologize and we thank
you for giving us the opportunity to make amends.


Wolk v. Avweb, et al

An Apology to Arthur Alan Wolk
by Kingsley Brent Owen

During the 2000 and 2001, and even more recently, I have made statements
both on the Internet and elsewhere about Arthur Alan Wolk.  Mr. Wolk has
sued me and others concerning those statements.  I would like to settle
that lawsuit and, at the same time, try to undue some of the damage I
did to Mr. Wolk, as I have acted unfairly and have libeled him.

I previously wrote in Avweb that Mr. Wolk pranced around in an
overstressed flight suit covered in patches that real pilots had to
earn.  In fact, the person to whom I was referring turned out to be not
Mr. Wolk at all, but rather another pilot of another flying Panther jet.
That occurred around 1996, and I assumed it was Mr. Wolk.  In fact, it
was not.  The pilot I was referring to, and with whom I had a
conversation, was not Mr. Wolk after all, it was, in fact, a former Navy
pilot who did earn the patches on his flight suit.  I have never seen
Mr. Wolk's flight suit or the patches on it.  Therefore, when I made the
statement on the Internet, I had no idea whether Mr. Wolk had earned his
patches or not.  I am informed that Mr. Wolk's flight suit has only
patches that he has earned and, therefore, for that misstatement, I

I also published on the Internet that the Kalamazoo Air History Museum
has been forced to curtail its flight activities due to Mr. Wolk's
causing insurance rates to be raised so extortionately, and I accused
Mr. Wolk of raising those rates because of his own accident, which I
claimed was due to incompetence.

In truth, when I made those statements, I had not even seen a copy of
the NTSB Report on Mr. Wolk's accident, had not spoken to any NTSB
investigator, I had not contacted the Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum,
nor spoken to them as to why they curtailed flight activities, I did not
speak to any other pilot of the Cat Flight with whom Mr. Wolk had flown
for eleven years before his accident, and I did not contact Mr. Wolk or
even make an attempt to do so to learn of the particulars of his
accident or what was found following the completion of the NTSB
investigation of the accident.  Indeed, I have learned that Mr. Wolk's
accident had nothing to do with Kalamazoo Aviation History Museum
curtailing its activities or insurance rates at all.

In fact, I was not familiar with the myriad of problems Mr. Wolk had had
with the fuel control of his aircraft or that, in fact, the fuel control
overhauler did not, in fact, overhaul the fuel control, but had yellow
tagged it improperly.  Indeed, I was not familiar with the particular
circumstances of Mr. Wolk's accident, or the fact that the NTSB itself
concluded that it had improperly investigated his accident, and had
assigned three new investigators, all of whom had concluded that the
accident was not Mr. Wolk's fault in the slightest.

In fact, I did not know that the Federal Aviation Administration, which
performed its own accident investigation concluded it was as a result of
mechanical failure, and did not even require Mr. Wolk to demonstrate his
competence to fly with a 609 checkride.  All of this investigation
should have been performed before I made such statements on the
Internet.  For these misstatements, I apologize.

I also stated on the Internet that Mr. Wolk's aircraft was perfectly
flyable and his crash was due to his incompetence, that he demonstrated
aviation stupidity and endangered innocent lives.  In truth, I knew
nothing about Mr. Wolk's accident, except that he crashed.  I knew
nothing about the circumstances about the accident, what went on in the
cockpit, or what indications he had in the cockpit.  In fact, I did not
have in my possession nor had I reviewed a flight manual for the F9F-2
Panther Jet (and still don't have one), which outlined procedures to be
followed in the event of the circumstances described by Mr. Wolk.  In
truth, had I had this manual prior to making those statements, I would
have realized that Mr. Wolk followed the emergency procedures that were
set forth in the manual, which perhaps was one of the reasons why both
the NTSB and FAA concluded that he was blameless for the accident.

I have also called Mr. Wolk an ambulance chaser and suggested that he
hounded grieving relatives to squeeze the maximum amount of blood money,
that he was a low life, that he was an unpleasant fat fellow, not the
least bit gifted, and a number of other equally demeaning and ugly
comments.  In truth, I realize, and should have realized before, that
Mr. Wolk is none of those things.  In fact, he is not fat, and is
generally considered to be gifted in his field.  In fact, he has never,
to my knowledge, nor did I have any information to the contrary,
solicited a widow, a grieving widow, grieving relatives, or performed
any unprofessional or unethical act as an attorney ever.  In fact, when
I made these statements, I knew nothing about Mr. Wolk, except what had
been written on Avweb, and made no investigation and, even though I live
in Pennsylvania, as does he, I made no attempt to contact him, to meet
with him, to discuss his work or see the results of it.  In short, I
essentially knew nothing about Mr. Wolk and took no steps to learn
anything before I made these false statements about him.  For this, I

I also have accused Mr. Wolk of being self aggrandizing, and have also
disputed his claim of performing critical work in the investigation of
the Boeing 737 rudder failures.  I was completely unaware when I made
these statements that on the very night of the crash of United Air Lines
Flight 585 in Colorado Springs, which involved a Boeing 737 aircraft,
Mr. Wolk suggested on Larry King Live on CNN, that the rudder was a
likely cause.  I was completely unaware that between that crash and the
crash of USAir Flight 427 near Pittsburgh, also involving a Boeing 737,
Mr. Wolk had conducted a personal investigation of the 737 rudder
system, including the purchase of a rudder control unit of a Boeing 737,
which he had reconstructed and tested, and discovered failure modes
which had not been previously disclosed either to the NTSB or the FAA.
I also learned that Mr. Wolk's metallurgist was asked to come to
Washington, DC to present evidence discovered during the course of Mr.
Wolk's investigation to assist the NTSB in its investigation of USAir
Flight 427 accident.  I was completely unaware that Mr. Wolk had been
speaking to the NTSB and providing the results of his findings to the
NTSB, trying to persuade it to take steps to cause the rudder to be
fixed before any further accident occurred.  In fact, I was completely
unaware that Mr. Wolk had attempted to get the rudder fixed on Boeing
737s before the unnecessary loss of life in the Pittsburgh USAir

I was unaware, when I made these statements, that following the
Pittsburgh accident when further studies were performed by the FAA, it
was indeed found that Mr. Wolk's concern about the rudder were
confirmed, and now all Boeing 737s will, within the next five years, be
retrofitted with an entirely newly designed rudder control system.  It
was unfair of me to take these statements about Mr. Wolk without
performing any investigation whatsoever to determine the truth or
falsity of what he claimed.  It now appears that his claims were sound.

I also participated in chat rooms where it was suggested that an F-14
pilot in the group known as the Cat Flight in which Mr. Wolk flew the
Panther jet with other Grumman cat fighters was concerned about his
flying ability.  That was no true.  I had never spoken to such a pilot,
I never met with such a pilot, I never received correspondence from such
a pilot, I knew nothing about such a pilot, and, in fact, there was no
such pilot who made such a reference to Mr. Wolk's flying.  Indeed, the
members of the Cat Flight, many of whom were former Navy and Air Force
trained pilots, embraced Mr. Wolk's flying, flew in formation with him
for eleven years in air shows throughout the Country, with high regard
for his flying abilities.  Indeed, I have met not a single person, nor
spoken to any person who has flown with him, who has any complaint about
Mr. Wolk's competence as a pilot.  I never spoke to anyone who had flown
with Mr. Wolk who said anything negative about his capabilities as a

I, in fact, never flew with Mr. Wolk, never saw him fly, never spoke to
anyone who flew with him, and never spoke to the NTSB or the FAA, who
had knowledge of his flying capabilities.  In fact, before I made these
statements, I had not even attempted to talk to the Flight Standards
District Office that issued his Letter of Authorization to fly the
Panther jet to find out what they thought of Mr. Wolk's flying abilities
and competence, his Low Level Aerobatic Waiver to 500' AGL or his
Formation Airshow Qualification.

During the course of the litigation that Mr. Wolk brought, I accused him
of perjury and altering documents, none of which is true.

During the course of the discourse over the Internet, I made belittling
statements about Mr. Wolk's knowledge of aircraft fuel systems and the
like.  The truth is I didn't know whether Mr. Wolk had knowledge on
these subjects or not.  In fact, I have no knowledge of Mr. Wolk's
training, capabilities, experience, study, or virtually anything else
about him.  I should never have made these remarks, because they were
inconsistent with what I believe that I stand for.

There is a mob mentality that takes hold on chat rooms on the Internet.
Things that people would ordinarily never say or do becomes easy perhaps
because of the anonymity that is provided by this electronic means of
communication.  What I didn't realize, and do now, is that the Internet
has great capacity to do harm to innocent people.  Whether I am in
agreement with Mr. Wolk's profession or the results he has obtained for
clients, what was wrong about what I did was not taking any steps to
learn about what this man has dedicated himself to do for essentially
his entire professional life.  That was unfair, illegal and wrong.  It
was also against the principals that I believe that I stand for, and
have my whole life.  Therefore, for some reason that I cannot adequately
explain, I harmed a person whom I didn't even know.  That is just wrong,
and for that I apologize to Mr. Wolk, and I appreciate his willingness
to forgive me without exacting a price from me.

It is my understanding that Mr. Wolk has resolved his case with Avweb,
and in exchange for that resolution, monies are being paid to charities,
none to Mr. Wolk personally.  That tells a lot about Mr. Wolk, and says
a lot more about Mr. Wolk than anything I could say in this apology.

Again, I am sorry.  I apologize, what I did was wrong, and I've learned
a lesson that will remain with me the rest of my life.

Kingsley Brent Owen


May 8, 2002

Dear Arthur,

Words are really insufficient to convey my family's deepest gratitude to
you for handling my parents' wrongful death suit against Egypt Air.  My
sisters and I could not have asked for a more competent, professional,
yet compassionate attorney -- or an attorney who would be more
personally involved in our case.  But what impressed us most throughout
this horrible orderal was the fact that your integrity, honesty and work
ethic were always above reproach (not an easy thing to say about most

As you know, in a time of unbearable grief we were inundated with
solicitations from other law firms.  We found this type of "ambulance
chasing" disrespectful and distasteful.  Thankfully, that is something
you would never think of doing.  We found you by asking three personal
friends, who are all lawyers we trust who they would recommend.  They
independently gave us your name and told us they felt you were the top
lawyer in the aviation industry.  When I contacted you I was immediately
impressed not only by your expertise and breadth of knowledge about the
Egypt Air situation, but by your personal reaction and genuine sadness
for my sisters and me.

I was also amazed that in an attempt to help us find an attorney we
would be most comfortable with, and one who could best handle our case,
you actually recommended two other law firms whom you felt were
competent.  This allowed us to make an educated comparison when deciding
on one of the most important courses of action in our adult lives -- who
to represent us in the murder of our parents.

Arthur, this has not been an easy two years for my sisters and me.  But
we have constantly been bolstered by your support, your friendship, and
your incredible dedication to our case.  You have worked relentlessly on
our behalf and have never made us field like clients.  And you have
cared about us on a personal level.  For all of this, we will always be
grateful.  But most importantly, you have helped us to reach some sort
of closure on a tragic event that has changed our lives forever.  We
will never be able to truly thank you enough.


Susan Murray
(For all the Schelpert daughters)


May 12, 1996

Dear Arthur,

I am writing to thank you for being our lawyer.

You took the case and overcame the red herring -- the fact that the
crash occurred while training.

You conducted a first class investigation and your own financial risk
and put the evidence together.  If we or ALPA are successful in a
petition to NTSB it will be due to your work.

Words are inadequate to describe how great you were in court as you
presented the case and gave John a voice.  It was a special time and we
will never forget it.

Our desire to be involved in all the details of the case may have been
unusual but you allowed it and it helped us.

You were more than generous to us in the settlement we received and we
appreciate the way you handled it.

I think you already know how we feel about everything but I wanted to
put it in writing.


Alice Murphy


November 14, 1999

Dear Arthur,

Congratulations on winding up successfully Keystone vs. Textron.  You
did a great job under difficult circumstances.  Considering the basic
problems I think we are all lucky that it worked out as well as it did.

I hope we don't have any more problems like this but if we do I will
certainly call on your firm for help.  Thanks again for a job well done.


Peter Wright
Chairman of the Board
Keystone Helicopter Corporation


November 15, 1999


As you know, we have completed the USAir 427 case in Cook County.  I
wanted you to know that your contributions in the discovery in 585 and
in our case as well in uncovering the culprit in the deaths of many is
not lost on me.  I hope that I get the opportunity to work with you
again in the future.

Very truly yours,

Todd A. Smith
Power Rogers & Smith, P.C.


Dear Arthur,

We cannot thank you and Richard and Cheryl and Catherine enough for your
unflagging efforts on our behalf.  I am reminded of your sleepless
nights at the Pensacola Grand Hotel preparing for the next day's trial,
and passing the peanuts for dinner.  Anything I want to give you as a
gift can be only a small token of our appreciation for your efforts.
Your performance in those three weeks of the entire 12 years leaves me
much to ponder and to compare to what I once believed about business
law, friendships and justice.  We wish you, as always, all the best.

Carlos and Judy


Mr. Wolk:

With all of the many cases and clients you handle, I hope you remember
me.  I only had the privilege of meeting you once when I traveled to
Philadelphia to meet with you about my Father's accident.  I was
browsing the website, and found your email address.  Our
case was so important to us, as I am sure many clients tell you about
their own circumstances.  I finished my degree, checked out the legal
field with an internship in a local law firm, and decided to run as fast
as I could toward private industry.  I currently work in the Information
Technology field, but spend a lot of time flying.  For now, the flying
is just a great hobby, no aviation career plans for now.  As I am sure
you know, it seems to be in your blood when you grow up with a Dad who
is a pilot.  Although our case, and the accident, happened several years
ago, it still seems fresh in my mind.  I cannot tell you how supportive
I am of your ongoing battles to make the sky a safer place.  I have
often thought of how I could help bring attention to the many problems
that plague the airways.  These problems, in so many ways, have directly
affected my life through my Dad's accident.  I continue to study
aviation safety, obviously on the level of an amateur, but your Larry
King appearances do provide good ammunition when discussing these things
with other pilots.  I would like to get your opinion on good places to
start in really getting involved in aviation safety, specifically, as a
victim of an aviation accident.  I belong to AOPA, attend the FAA Safety
Meetings, but I know I can do much more.  Would my experience as a
victim of an aviation accident and interest in aviation safety ever be
of potential use to you or your firm?  I am curious and interested in
how I can help.  Please feel free to contact me any time, I am attaching
my personal contact information.  Once again, thank you for all of your
support and hard work on our case, and aviation safety in general.

Bryan A. Sklar

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© Dr. Günther Eichhorn
Email Guenther Eichhorn