– Steve Hitchen
It's very hard to look at Oshkosh every year and yearn for something of this nature in Australia. Sadly, over here an event of these proportions would be totally impossible to stage; our industry is fractured and getting more fractured every year. Oshkosh's greatest display is its unity and community spirit. What we have over here is an us-verses-them attitude that is sadly perpetual by both us and them. To be blatant, whilst AOPA Australia and RAAus are standing and flinging mud pies at each other the situation will continue. Of course, both sides are keen to promote unity within GA as long as it is done on their grounds, when the reality is that any form of healing is going to need concessions on behalf of both sides of the wound. We even have two national fly-ins held within 30 days and of each other and only 103 km apart. Many fliers, including me, will be forced to choose one or the other, which only adds to the divide. There will be some that go to both events, but I believe they will be very rare beasts indeed. In the meantime, Oshkosh rolls on taunting us with what could be if the rift in Australian GA ever healed.
Whilst aviation's political wind vane has been pointing towards the Civil Aviation Amendment Bill, the Air Services Amendment Bill has snuck back onto the Senate agenda. Like all legislation, it lapsed with the end of the last parliament and had to be re-listed. This is the bill that will require Airservices to review any flight path into any airport at the request of any single person and contains a special clause to prevent flights over Melbourne CBD below 6000 feet and within 2.7 nm of the city centre. First touted by Greens MP Adam Bandt in 2016 and introduced to the Senate by Greens Senator Janet Rice, proponents of the bill are saying that it is necessary because of "acute circumstance of high intensity flights of small aircraft in uncontrolled air space." In December 2016, I wrote that I expected this "mutt" legislation was likely to be killed dead in the Senate, but it doesn't seem to want to die. It's a mutt because the premises it is founded on are shaky at best and nefarious at worst. Aircraft noise in Melbourne CBD? I guess they don't want to have it cut across their enjoyment of the sound of road traffic.
This week was announced the closure of another aviation magazine: Australian Flying's sister publication Flightpath. Flightpath concentrated on antiques and warbirds, and for 30 years was the most dedicated and expert magazine on the subject that Australia had. Editor Rob Fox was at the wheel for 20 of those years and through his own skill with a camera and authoritative voice, fashioned Flightpath into the go-to publication for both warbird owners and enthusiasts. It's closure will leave a big hole in that community. Flightpath becomes yet another casualty in the media war of print verses digital. Since I took over Australian Flying in 2012, I have seen five aviation magazines–Pacific Flyer, Pacific Wings, Aviation Business, Flight Safety and Flightpath–fold their wings. CASA recently announced the return of Flight Safety as a subscription mag, whereas it was previously free issue. Through all of that–and there might be some trumpet-blowing coming up–Australian Flying has stood steady among the carnage. We face the same challenges as all the other print mags, but we're still in there due to the hard work of the sales and production team, the contributors and more than anything, the readership. The magazine is produced for the people who read it and it's those people that really keep it alive. Because of you we are strong, and I thank everyone out there for their contribution. My challenge with every issue is to make sure Australian Flying meets your expectations of being Australia's best GA magazine.
Preliminary nominations for the 2019 Wings Awards closed last week. If you have been asked to submit a full nomination, we ask that you get it to us soonest possible. However, the volume of nominations this year has surpassed any previous year and they keep rolling in, so we will extend the deadline for another week. You now have until 9 August to get your preliminary nomination in. Be aware that there will be no extension to this because of the program schedule, so get on it right away!
May your gauges always be in the green,