– Steve Hitchen
Pacific Airshow dropped a bombshell this week by announcing a Gold Coast version of its successful California air show. Done the same, we can look forward to a massive spectacular on the beach front that will attract numbers to challenge the supremacy and marketing boasts of the Australian International Airshow at Avalon. Air shows in Australia are generally run on a not-for-profit basis (those that have tried to make money have fallen flat), but this one is a fully professional money-spinner that aims at showing off in front of the general public. But Pacific Airshows will find that in the Australian aviation industry nothing happens easily. The organisers will have to deal with an international airport only a deck-chair's throw away from the crowd line and a regulator that likes to boast the lack of fatalities at air displays in this country, and has a deep desire to see that that never changes. Things that "we do all the time in the states" may not be permitted here. With so much on the line and the hype currently in afterburner, the show must indeed go on or faces will be impacted by eggs. The Americans are going to have to get used to CASA's way of doing things or pack-up their bunting and go home. At least there's more than 12 months to work through it all.
Understanding political policies whilst we're still on the windward side of an election is critical to the democratic process. So far the major parties have hinted at things to come without being committed, but they aren't the only ones on the balance sheet. So I have to applaud the initiative of AOPA Australia in recruiting PHON Senator Malcolm Roberts to an online session this week. Ben Morgan gaves Roberts the low-down on GA issues in his customary forthright manner, and in return, Roberts gave his thoughts on health, indigenous issues and the Murray-Darling basin. The session closed with no-one being any the wiser what PHON thinks about aviation at any level. With only four weeks to go, it seems PHON has been blind to the GA issues so far. Contrast that with what the GA community is expecting from Senator Rex Patrick at Bankstown on Sunday. Patrick is one of the most engaged senators we have and is not the type to hold anything back. I am still very curious (and a touch sceptical) about his "sledgehammer", but regardless of what he has to say, anyone who leaves AOPA Australia's hangar not knowing what Patrick thinks will have been asleep for the previous hour! It is already obvious that we're heading for a hung parliament, and the independents and minor parties are about to enjoy three years in the sun. Regardless of the colour of their policies, we need to know what these new-born power brokers think about general aviation and what value they place on the work already done, such as the senate inquiry and the GAAN strategy. Kudos to Senator Roberts for engaging with us, but that should have been done a long time ago so we're still not wondering what PHON thinks four weeks away from the ballot box.
The Australian Aviation Hall of Fame (AAHOF) is no longer a wandering oracle. From 18 June it opens its doors to the public for the first time. The permanent display upstairs in the HARS building at Shellharbour Airport will not only tell the stories of those inducted, but also house a collection of memorabilia and artifacts that will continue to tell the story of aviation in Australia. AAHOF started out as a phone call from one person to another that said little more that "what do you think about this idea" and has morphed from a website and an annual dinner to become critical part of our aviation culture with a home of its own. Until now, AAHOF has been telling the stories to people who have largely already read them, but now with a permanent display, the general non-aviation public can be invited in to hear them as well. What AAHOF needs from us is engagement. After 18 June, plan to make your way to Albion Park Rail and take in AAHOF when you can. It's something to be proud of, and one day AAHOF will be an integral part of the journey of all Australian aviators. Well done to the small group of people that started and maintained AAHOF through hard work and imagination.
May your gauges always be in the green,