– Steve Hitchen
Welcome to LMH on a Thursday. With Good Friday on the morrow, the Australian Flying team will be relaxing at home; hence, you are getting this newsletter today before Easter kicks-in at around 5.00 pm tonight. And its looking like pretty good flying weather for most of the southern states, with fun-killing conditions predicted only in the tropical regions north of Tweed/Cooly. Excuses for not getting airborne just won't cut it when there's four days of aviation on offer.
Storm clouds are gathering over Moorabbin again. The next draft master plan is due in a couple of weeks are there aren't many operators on the airport that believe the MP will yield a vibrant future for aviation on a patch that has been a GA mainstay since 1949. Leaseholder Goodman Group recently ploughed up the western end of the northern apron, razed several hangars and evicted operators without offering alternative homes for the businesses. According to Goodman's 2015 master plan, all of this was considered surplus to aviation needs. It is expected that Goodman–a property development behemoth–will find more "surplus infrastructure" in the next master plan, which has operators feeling very vulnerable. None of this, however, is new ... it was all in a the last master plan that drew only six submissions from the aviation community. Such low levels of feedback are effectively a green-light for the department to approve the master plan. Now, in the shadow of a growing construction site where aeroplanes were once tied-down, airport operators are understanding the fight they are in. But they're not alone, or rather, they shouldn't be alone. Moorabbin Airport is an asset for everyone in aviation. There wouldn't be many licensed pilots in Victoria that haven't landed there, and almost none that haven't used businesses based there. Skylines, AvPlan, Royal Vic ... all of these are assets for everyone in aviation. We are all stakeholders and all have a right to have our say. When the draft master plan is released, it should not be only the Moorabbin operators who pull it apart and register their objections; it should be everyone in GA right across Australia. And that goes also for the futures of Bankstown, Camden, Archerfield, Jandakot, Parafield and every airport in the nation where the Moorabbin story is being repeated. It is the entire industry's responsibility to defend the infrastructure that benefits us all.
In a great-news story, I was very privileged to have flown in the RAAF Centenary Air Armada over Point Cook on the weekend. I was in one of 46 aeroplanes that saluted the air force with a mass fly-over of the place the RAAF was born in 1921. Not only was it an exhilarating exercise, but also an example of what the GA industry can do when it wants to work together. Seven months in planning; countless Zoom meetings. Three rehearsals confirmed the concept and on the day everyone flew to a very professional standard. Lessons have been learned about co-operation and leveraging enthusiasm, which hopefully now can be used to benefit GA in other ways. But a former colleague of mine cut through with a very poignant comment after the event: it shouldn't have fallen to civilians to do this. Yes, in the year of its centenary, the RAAF completely ignored the place of its genesis. Air shows were held at Temora and, of course, the fly-past in Canberra, which created a lot of attention. But Point Cook, the oldest continuously-used military airfield in the world, featured not in the celebrations. The civilian pilots of Australia see you, Point Cook, even if the RAAF doesn't.
Of course there is supposed to be one more RAAF centenary event in 2021 and a key one at that: the Australian International Air Show. Avalon 2021 has been the subject of a lot of speculation this year. Having already been postponed from its traditional late February slot on the calendar, many in the aviation community have been wondering if the show will go ahead at all. This week we were greeted with the news of another date-shift; a one-week postponement to enable the aftermath of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix to subside. What has not subsided is the uncertainty of whether or not Avalon will actually happen. International civil displays that have been the centrepiece of Avalon in the past won't be getting travel exemptions to come into Australia. Neither, unfortunately, will many international companies that usually account for the bulk of the booked floor space. Under so many other circumstances, AMDA would probably just forgo 2021 and start planning for 2023, but that means missing the RAAF centenary year. I suspect that's an unpalatable prospect for the air force, which will be imparting positive influence to ensure that Avalon goes ahead in early December.
May your gauges always be in the green,