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

– Steve Hitchen

Australia's northern aviators are entering the period known as "build-up". That is the storm before the storm that occurs as the climate transitions into the wet season. It's time of the year when a day is more likely than not to be dogged by afternoon thunderstorms. And these are vicious brutes; large, unpredicable, unstable and violent. The ATSB report issued this week into a narrow escape last year shows what they're capable of doing to you even if you don't actually enter one. Experience counts for everything in build-up; a fatal accident a few years ago that tore apart a C210 as it tried to escape a thunderstorm is testament to that. The big danger is not so much the local, but inexperienced southern pilots that venture north during the next couple of months. Yes, we've all encountered thunderstorms and given them a wide berth, but a build-up storm is like no other beast that dwells in Australia. If you've got plans to head north before the wet starts, do your thunderstorm homework very well before you go.

CASA has managed to head-off Angel Flight's challenge to their letters of demand to pilots by refusing to allow certain internal e-mails to be used in the Federal Court. The e-mails were disclosed to Angel Flight as part of the organisation's main challenge to the regulator and for no other purpose. Unfortunately, Angel Flight's case that the letters of demand were issued for an "improper purpose" relied on the contents of those e-mails, which scuttled the whole challenge. Curious and curiouser? What is in those e-mails? The content is enough for Angel Flight to believe they proved improper purpose and will form part of AF's main case against CASA in March next year, so we can conclude that their existence is of more benefit to Angel Flight than it is to CASA. Now, that's not to say that CASA didn't have the right to suppress the e-mails in the context AF tried to use them; they did. However, it does seem inconsistent with CASA's promise to be more transparent.

RAAus will miss CEO Michael Linke, who has resigned to move on to other skies. When he came on board six years ago, RAAus needed a complete overhaul if it was ever going to transform itself into a professional organisation that CASA would feel happy granting a Part 149 approval to. Although he didn't do it alone, Linke was the keystone in making that happen, and no matter what you think about his style and methods, no-one can deny he always had the best interests of his organisation at the centre of everything he did. The next CEO is taking over an administrator that is in pretty decent condition.

Australian Flying held its first forum last Wednesday night with a Meet the Writers session on Zoom. Hosted by Senior Contributor Paul Southwick and featuring Kreisha Ballantyne, Angela Stevenson, Tony Self, Jim Davis and me, we covered readers' topics that told you a lot (perhaps too much?) about ourselves and what it takes to be an aviation writer. Thanks to all those that participated on Facebook and to Garmin Australia that donated three Garmin Integrated Flight Deck (GIFD) simulators for us to give away. The lucky readers that took the chocolates were Tony Collett, Ruwan Jayamanna and Marlan Balasuriya. It was so successful, we're thinking of a repeat performance examining a topic of a reader's choice. What would you like to see us cover? Drop me a line at stevehitchen@yaffa.com.au.

If you missed the forum, you can watch it again on the Australian Flying Facebook page.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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