As I sit here typing I am listening to the start-up sounds of a Piper Archer. The pilot and family are heading off for what they expect will be an enjoyable flight along the Victorian coast. In January last year, I am sure someone at Moorabbin listened to a Cherokee 235 burst into life as it set off on a leisurely flight to King Island. Only that flight wasn't so leisurely; the pilot and crew encountered poor visibility south of Barwon Heads and the result was the worst possible outcome. It has to frustrate both CASA and the ATSB that pilots continue to push the limits of visual flight, only to find that if they cross that limit there is no coming back. It happened again this week near Mount Gambier. Why do we keep doing this? Do we think we are better pilots than we really are? Are we not adequately trained in reading weather conditions? I don't think even the ATSB has answers regardless of all the messages they and CASA send out. That Piper Archer has just rolled on the runway blessed with much more amenable weather conditions than PXD had, and several airports en route. I look forward to seeing them again in a few hours.
AOPA Australia must be feeling a tad marginalised in Canberra at the moment. AOPA has done as much as any association to try to shepherd genuine reforms through the bureaucratic maze, but they find themselves on the outer when it comes to consultation groups. AOPA has not been included on the Forum on Western Sydney Airport (FOWSA), which Ed Husic MP raised in parliament last week, nor on CASA's new Aviation Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP). Admittedly, not every association can sit on every panel or committee (it would make it completely disfunctional), but AOPA is a big one to leave out. In the case of ASAP, The Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF) of which AOPA is a member, has got a guernsey, so CASA has pointed out that AOPA has representation through them. Here's one possible, but not the only, answer why AOPA doesn't make it to the tables. CASA and the department see TAAAF, RAAus and RAAA as professional organisations, but AOPA may come across to them as well-meaning, but perhaps a tad amateurish. This may reflect on AOPA's determination not to play by the traditional Canberra political rules.
You just can't applaud Orange Aero Engineering loud enough, can you? Daniel Thomas and his team have donated refurbishing skills to AOPA to restore a C152 to be used to inspire young people to get involved in aviation. The value of this is thought to be around $50,000. This is a great contribution Orange Aero have made to the future of general aviation, and it is only one part of an enlightenment happening in GA that we all need to put in to our community if we want to prosper. Both AOPA and GA need more people like this who are prepared to step up and say "we can help". Much kudos and a shout out to this team.
Red Bull is back in Budapest this weekend, which I look forward to every year more than any other round. I suppose I am a bit like those people who watch the Tour de France only for the scenery and don't worry much about the bike riders. I love the old buildings and statues, the iconic Chain Bridge and the beautiful meandering Danube that separates the old cities of Buda and Pest. But the difference between me and the TdF watchers is that I care immensely about what happens on the track. Go Matt Hall!
Tomorrow marks the official closing of Wings Awards nominations. However, your judging panel has again been swayed to extend the deadline by a week. You now have until the end of the day on Saturday 8 July to get your nomination in. So, if you missed it by hair, you have a seven day grace period. We look forward to seeing more submissions.
May your gauges always be in the green,