– Steve Hitchen

Let's start out with congratulations to those aviators recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List this year. I don't think there is a name on the list that anyone would dispute belongs to be there. Aviators regularly make the list, but very rarely are any of them mentioned in the mainstream news. The strength of the aviation industry can be attributed to these people and many more like them, yet the general public in Australia are most often not aware of their contributions. Well done to all of you; the aviation community appreciates your passion and your effort.

I like Daher's idea of buying Quest Aircraft. It's a concept that just makes good sense. The synergies between the two companies are very strong in terms of philosophy, technology and equipment. Daher now has two PT6-powered single-engined turbo-props (SETP); one a high-speed people mover and the other a very capable utility. It means Daher has the full range of traditional SETP missions covered and gives them very solid presence in the US market. With Textron looking to become Kings of the turbo-prop by taking on Pilatus with the Cessna Denali and introducing the SkyCourier to the world, Daher has strengthened their claim to market share without having to go down the ridiculously-expensive path of developing their own utility aeroplane. Mind you, Daher's Kodiak is up against the might and power of the established Caravan series; eroding their market share will be a task worthy of a Corinthian king. But with the weight of Daher behind them and some R&D cash splashed, the Kodiak suddenly becomes a sharper thorn in Textron's side at a time when they're concentrating on trying to muscle Pilatus.

It seems the Battle of Tyabb is set to go on for some time. After the council seeking to impose very transparent, ridiculous restrictions on the airport, they have betrayed that they will employ just about every piece of chicanery in the book to stifle operations there ... and even invent a few new ones. Firstly they demanded the airport respect church-hour curfews for a church that doesn't actually exist, and then they have ordered businesses shut down because they can't find the permits. In neither case has the council strengthened its claim to competent management. It also seems they are unaware of pre-existing laws that actually support the ongoing operation of Tyabb Airport. The good news this week is that the council CEO has said he'll meet with the aero club to discuss the situation. That's a beginning not a conclusion and the aviation community there is very keen to see if anything constructive comes from it. The weight of public opinion seems to be in favour of the airport, which looks to have force the council's hand. The shire may choose to ignore that weight and press on with their flimsy campaign. How far they can take it is likely to be at the behest of the Supreme Court.

Formula One motor racing has a term that is often applied to some very good drivers, yet it is a title that most rue: the Nearly Man. Nearly Men are those that came so close to claiming the World Championship on one or more occasions, but ultimately left the sport without ever claiming the crown. Mark Webber is a Nearly Man; Stirling Moss is a Nearly Man and so is David Coulthard. Right now there is one other person in motor sport who is fighting to prevent the name being applied to  him: Matt Hall. With only three races left in the history of the Red Bull Air Race, 2019 becomes the last chance for Hall to achieve his ambition of taking the world crown. Hall has finished second three times, more often than any other pilot who has not complimented it with a championship title. The good news is that the Australian knows it's pointless sitting back now and is prepared to go all-out in a now-or-never battle for the final crown. A good start would be a victory in Kazan this weekend, or at least a pile of points to lift Hall out of his fifth place and into a stronger position to compete for the title. A series win would be a fitting end to the racing career of a pilot whose consistency has yielded him more championship points since the series resumed in 2014 than any other pilot.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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