It's been a while since the honor was bestowed, but we think we've found a suitable candidate, or more correctly candidates.
Our first "team award" goes to the gang at KOTV in Tulsa. Someone at Channel 6 thought it would be a really neat idea to have their news chopper make a low pass over their satellite truck as it sat in a field, dish raised. An on-board videographer was grinding away, recording video was supposed to be used in a news promotion spot, touting (you guessed it,) the satellite truck.
Take a look at the pictures on KOTV's website, and you can see what happened. The chopper dipped too low, clipped the satellite dish and crashed. Fortunately, both the pilot and videographer survived, and no one on the ground was injured. Unfortunately, the helicopter was destroyed and KOTV's other, expensive toy (the satellite truck nicknamed "Spririt Star") was damaged.
All this for a few lousy seconds of promotional video that most viewers would ignore, anyway. It's quite likely that the FAA will chalk this one up to pilot error, but there's plenty of blame to go around. From the station's general manager and news director, to the news promotion staff, there are lots of folks who signed off on this idea, tempting safety (and fate) in pursuit of some "cool" video.
In fairness, KOTV isn't the only station that's done this sort of thing. There are TV outlets in every city that shamelessly promote their SuperDuperDoppler9000ActionCamHelicopter and companion satellite truck, and they're always searching for the right angle or bit of footage that looks edgy, dramatic or captivating. After all, television is a visual medium.
But in aviation, there's also notion of erring on the side of caution, something the folks at KOTV clearly took a pass on. By sending their chopper and satellite truck out on a pointless mission (and endangering lives in the process) the managers at KOTV are, collectively, our "Idiots of the Week."