• Australian Flying editor Steve Hitchen. (Kevin Hanrahan)
    Australian Flying editor Steve Hitchen. (Kevin Hanrahan)

– Steve Hitchen

RotorTech 2021 will always be remembered as the one that COVID corrupted, but couldn't kill. The rotary aviation industry event went ahead in Brisbane during the week, which proved the determination of the community to get back together and justified the belief that organisers AMDA Foundation had in the industry. A record attendance of 1800 over three days was all the evidence needed. A full schedule of speakers delivered some very pertinent topics relating to helicopter and UAV operations and the exhibition floor, I am told, had a very satisifed and happy buzz about it. There were far too many people ear-marked for RotorTech that were either stranded overseas or in the pariah state of Victoria, but contingencies were enacted, substitutes called off the bench and the show very much went ahead. All of those involved from convenor Chris Manning to AHIA president Ray Cronin and all the companies the exhibited and speakers that presented ought to be congratulated for shouldering the risk and persisting with the event. It is exactly what the rotary aviation industry and general aviation as a whole desperately needed. Now for Avalon.

I hired a C172 from the school at Moorabbin I flew with many years ago. On presenting myself at the counter, my flying instructor queried why I was hiring a 172 when I had only just completed a CSU/retract endorsement on their Arrow. I told him it was simply the cost. I got castigated and he convinced me to switch my hire to the Arrow. "I don't want you to fly anything else for the next 20 hours," he said. It was all about consolidation. The story came straight back to me when I read the accident report on the EC120B crash at the Great Barrier Reef. The ATSB homed in on the fact that the pilot chopped and changed between the EC120 and a Bell 206 only just after getting his endo on the EC. The two are apparently technically very different aircraft to fly, resulting in a dilution of the endorsement training. It's a danger that is not often thought about, but one which flying instructors and we pilots need to give a lot of consideration to: just because we have an entry in a logbook it doesn't mean we are competent on an aircraft, only that we are safe enough to learn the type by ourselves. Consolidation training embeds all the things that we learnt during the endo and teaches us some things that weren't covered in the the training. It's one reason why I don't fly twins or taildraggers anymore even though I am endorsed on both. Circumstances prevented me from proper consolidation, so I elected to walk away from flying both. I am absolutely convinced the decision to do so has saved me from more than one disaster.

About this time every year I start bleating about the lack of acknowledgement for aviation people in the Queen's Birthday honours list. It seems to me that an industry this large that has been created and continually supported by relatively so few people that more gongs would be handed out for service. This year, the list bore fruit for just one person. Mind you, I can't think of a more deserving person than Ken Broomhead, it's just that he shouldn't be Robinson Crusoe on the list. The lack of recognition was one of the driving factors behind the decision to inaugrate the Wings Awards in 2014. The idea was to make sure that the people who deserved the recognition got it. They've become an integral part of GA now, and the paucity of people recognised by the federal government has, year after year, justified the decision. So now to the 2021 Wings Awards, which open for nomination on 1 July. The on-line system hasn't been activated as yet, but the criteria for each category is up there to give you a head start on your submission. Last year we got a record number of nominations, and there's little reason to believe we won't set a new standard in 2021.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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