Steve Hitchen

On Tuesday night I addressed a class of aviation students at University of NSW. My subject was, as you could imagine, general aviation. Preparing for the lecture forced me to do a deep analysis of general aviation, all its woes, highlights, strengths and idiocyncracies. The hardest part was to present the material without bias in a manner that would either help these bright young people to one day contribute to the industry themselves, or send them off on quests querying my conclusions. Hopefully I did one of the other. But I got a lot out of the experience myself, and one of those things was a deeper understanding of why I love this general aviation caper. For all it's brickbats, it's an exciting industry to be in, and one that is worth the fight now and for decades to come. Some of those young students will have to take up the standard long after those who carry it now have had to relinquish the task.

With less than one week until the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) is scheduled to present their GA Study to the minister, the last thing I wanted to find out is that there appears to be somewhat of a power struggle going on in Canberra. This has nothing to do with parliament or dual citizenship, but rather that factions within the GA community aren't getting on as well as we need them to. If the BITRE study brings forward anything that can give GA a genuine push towards revitalisation, then we need to show the minister that we stand united and ready for the task. He, and his department, will need to believe in us if they are to commit taxpayers' resources to help us out, but at the moment we seem to be showing them a divided community clamouring to be the favourite child. Darren Chester has signalled before that he has an issue with divided opinion, and it seems as we approach a critical crossroads we are offer him just that.

Right, that's it ... AirVenture Australia is going ahead. The announcement today that tickets are on sale from Monday is the Point-of-No-Return for the event, which will now go ahead despite the cloud that has hung over it for nearly a month now. All that is now supposedly sorted, although I suspect there is some residual politicking going on in the background. But largely, the success of AirVenture is now in the hands of the general public and the general, recreational and sport aviators of Australia. If we don't show up in force the event will fail; no amount of sponsorship money or stunning flying displays can possibly be used as measure to declare success without a good crowd turn-out. The whole controversy has scarred the event and left a nasty taste in the mouths of many of us, but it's time now to spit that out and remember why we want this event in the first place.

I am about to go on a bit of a sabbatical, although I doubt without me saying anything anyone would notice. For the month of September I will be handing over the print issue of Australian Flying for Senior Contributor Philip Smart to edit. Philip has been around the aviation industry for a few years and was most recently the editor of Aviation Business, so he's got both the cred and the skills to do a great job. I'll still be here doing the website and The Last Minute Hitch, which is why I suspect no-one will notice my sabbatical. I am going to use the time away from the print mag to explore some possibilities for the Australian Flying website, which have been on the backburner for so long the pot has almost boiled dry.

May your gauges always be in the green,




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