Work site spotlight

January 25, 2002 | Chattanooga Times Free Press (TN)

 | Page: Bob Gary | Section: Bob Gary
326 Words | Readability: Lexile: 1030, grade level(s): 6 7 8

On the last Friday of each month, the Chattanooga Times Free Press focuses on an individual in a business workplace and what he or she does during the workday.

* Who: Butch Johnson, owner of Butch Johnson's Chattanooga Eye in the Sky Traffic Network

* Location: 5151 Old Hixson Pike

* Inside view: Mr. Johnson marked his sixth year in business in Chattanooga this month, and he did it in a big way. He debuted his new helicopter, the $500,000-plus centerpiece of a yearlong expansion that included the addition of a television truck.

"I started expanding last year by putting a camera on the airplane, taking live video from the sky and putting it on my Internet site,," he said. "Now we've replaced the plane with the helicopter. You can't hover in an airplane. Now we can stop, hover and get a lot lower."

Mr. Johnson spends about six hours a day -- from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. -- reporting on area traffic for 26 area radio stations and WTVC. He sometimes visits area elementary and middle schools between those shifts, landing his helicopter, sponsored by Dr. Debra DiStefano, on the school's grounds.

"The kids love it," he said. "They'll come out and ask questions about the helicopter and how it flies. I talk to them about staying away from drugs and alcohol, and about the Internet. It's their future and our future."

* His clients: Steve Hunsicker, news director at WTVC, said having Mr. Johnson working out of a helicopter rather than an airplane makes a big difference.

"The difference really has to do with the pictures we can put on TV," Mr. Hunsicker said. "You can zoom in (in a helicopter) and get to places you can't in a plane. You have to fly much higher in a plane.

"You can't get a better source for traffic information than Butch, but it's about more than just traffic. It helps our ability to get on top of spot news, too."

E-mail Bob Gary Jr. at

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