– Steve Hitchen
One more skittle to go? This week the Brisbane Airshow fell victim to COVID with organisers making the decision to reschedule to expected happier times next year. There was only one month to go before the gates opened, which means a lot of work had been done to this point, only to have it all come to nothing. It's the volunteers that I feel the most for; they will be asked to go around again in July 2022 having had all their efforts quashed in 2021. It's dispiriting, but if I know the passionsof aviation volunteers, to a person they'll stick there hands up to do it all again. That makes Wings over Illawarra the last skittle. Aviation's Q4 2021 was looking busier than a soldier ant early this year as most air shows and fly-ins filled the calendar for an era that was supposed to be post-COVID. One-by-one they have conceded defeat. All except WOI, which has already been rescheduled twice this year. Can it stand alone against the tsunami of COVID measures and restrictions that it faces? Steaming ahead for late November, WOI probably has the best chance, but we need to recognise that the chance is not very fat. Still, optimism and resilience are powerful tools, and Bright Events has demonstrated before that they have plenty of both in reserve.
They call them The Acronyms: aviation groups by whose lettering we know them. AOPA, AAA, AAAA, RAAA, RAAus, ALAEA, AMROBA, TAAAF, GAAN; inevitably there's at least one "A" in every letter set. This week another one has been added to the roll call: the Australian Flight Training Industry Association (AFTIA). The news is likely to prompt a chorus of howls that we don't need another association, and there is merit in the chorus; too many voices can serve to confuse rather than clarify. But there is good reason for the genesis of AFTIA: despite all those acronyms, flight training advocacy has been playing second fiddle to the primary cause of each group. No-one was championing the cause of flight training organisations above all else. It could be argued that the result of that is currently enshrined in Part 61, Part 141, Part 142 and all the problems that those regs have birthed. That's not to denigrate in anyway the efforts of groups like AOPA Australia and the RAAA, both of which have stepped in to tow the FTO cause forward at times, but flight training needs a prime mover of its own, and that prime mover should be AFTIA. When I first caught wind of the desire for AFTIA, I assigned writer Angela at Avalon to get inside the motivation for an FTO association. The results of her work are published in the September-October 2021 issue of Australian Flying. That work reveals a training industry crying out to be heard from behind a wall of conflicted priorities, a situation that places FTOs in a very precarious position at a time when aviation needs its bedrock to be most stable. Now, in AFTIA, the flight training industry has its own voice, one which may soon prove to be one of the loudest.
How are your Wings Awards nominations going? There are still six weeks to go until nominations close (5 November), but history shows us that the best submissions tend to come in the closing weeks acceptances because they have been worked on for so long. History also shows that most successful submissions have addressed the criteria well. We've tweaked the on-line nomination system this year so it is easier to do that; all you need to do give thought to how you answer the questions and you'll find that generally the criteria will be matched. And another reminder: if someone has already been nominated for the Col Pay Award at any time then their nomination is still live for subsequent years. The Col Pay is awarded for a lifetime of service, so once the criteria is met, then it is met for life.
May your gauges always be in the green,