What We Have Lost.

The post reproduced below is from a colleague who has the same kit built aircraft as I do. He is currently flying from his home in California to Oshkosh. He posts on Facebook about his journey

I posted it because it encapsulates one aspect of what flying life is in the USA and it highlights exactly what damage the Australian GA and recreational aviation industries have sustained over at least the last Thirty years.

Not for my friend endless arguments over access to controlled airspace, micro management by impossibly complex and deliberately imprecise regulation, strict liability felony offences, landing fees, medical certificate misery, ASIC cards, endless argument over what regulations mean as opposed to what they say, draconian and capricious behavior as highlighted by the Forsyth Review and exemplified by the treatment of Glen Buckley and all the uniquely Australian bullshit that has destroyed the industry - or rather smothered it in opportunity costs.

Here is my friends post:

Threading the needle to Creston Municipal Airport in Iowa. The one picture of my plane, the FBO office, and the courtesy car, is why I love doing trips like this. These people did not know me from Adam, yet helped me fuel my plane, tie it down, and then tossed me the keys to the courtesy car and told me where the best hotel and restaurant was. No copy of my drivers license, no presenting insurance cards, nothing, I don’t even think they know my name.  I ask him what the fee for the tiedown was and he replied “There is none”

Small little crop dusting strips like this are little jewels, just great, down to earth, honest people. Ironically, the young man that helped me today may have been the same boy I watched help load the hopper on his dad‘s crop duster when I came through on my Quicksilver in 2009. Your stops  are always the best memories on these trips.”

The Rum Corps and the Transported.

Or; you can't loose what you never had.

I always reckon the 'ethos' established during the days of being a penal colony has never, ever really changed. The 'Rum Corps' ran every bit of 'dodgy-doings' and the State. You either were one of 'them' or one of those they controlled. From harvest to hooch; girls to church or even to  a misguided 'native' - the habit of 'authority' exercised by only one group became the norm. Tug your forelock; pay the 'excess' and you were allowed to pretend that you were part of a brave new world. Dream on. The dynasties which became the imitation of the British landed gentry were indeed - a rum lot. Those dynasties simply transmogrified into the 'administrative ruling class and hired whatever help they needed to maintain the status quo. Democracy eventually gained a foothold - on the surface - but the founding ethos has never changed. You either belong or you do not. But don't believe me - back track some of the Canberra 'dynasty' public service families - where the 'real' power resides. Nothing has really changed since the first fleet rocked into dodge.

America on the other hand fought for it's freedoms and won. They even had a horrendous Civil War to 'free' those enslaved (in the name of humanity and freedom). Aviation in the USA reflects that 'independent' spirit - history confirms this - at about the time of the second world war and it cannot be compared to the Australian lack of freedom. In the USA aircraft manufacturers told government that as it built their glorious aircraft, they wanted to set the rules. Guess what - they did. In Australia the military (Rum Corps descendants?) took charge of all 'matters aeronautical' - the rest is history.

Call 'pony-pooh' if you like - but compare American aviation to Australia's effort and then; if you're game - imagine the FAA trying to pull a 'Buckley' or, to put that another way - compare the work FAA did with Angel Flight to make it work to the load of bollocks CASA presented to restrict 'em. 

Nah; the fault is ours; in the DNA - generations subservient to a well entrenched minority; the same crew that ran the Rum trade, from the beginning. "For we are young and free" - Bollocks. Democracy? - Well that's my free speech quota - used as pleases me best

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I’m not an incurable romantic - pining for freedom in my Che Guevara tee shirt, I’m just thinking of the money.

I look at my own local strip and wonder why there aren’t half a dozen turbine helicopters lifting hunters, hikers, skiers and wine tourists where they want to go, instead of one tired R22.

Not a week passes without someone dropping by the hangar asking ; “is there anything for hire?”, “I want to learn to fly” or the saddest:”i had a licence 20 years ago, how do I?”. Then there are the “I want to build but”, “I want to organise a marriage proposal/birthday gift/ tour ‘.

…..and I have no answer for them. I have a local friend, retired, 10,000 plus hours on heavy jets. Qualified instructor. He can’t teach here because he needs a school to affiliate with…

‘Think of the money, honey. Think of all those jobs going begging. If you read between the lines of my colleagues post - he stopped at a tiny country airport in the USA - with people actually working there? - not like so many virtually abandoned Australian airports. A courtesy car??? That place was alive!! Ours are almost dead.

Never mind the romance, Think of the money. Think of the jobs.

There's not much 'romance' in a balance sheet; even less in a direct operating cost analysis. The hard road to acquire 'seed' capital and set up costs and machinery lease costs needs much justification in the way of 'revenue in versus money out, hard evidence is required to gain 'the money' interest - three year return on investment demanded. This before the torture of gaining an Air Operator Certificate and the expense of establishing all of the bits and bobs associated, insurance, and etc. To establish a 'small' aviation business is a very tough, high risk, capital intensive task, not one for the feint hearted. The old saw 'how to make a small fortune from aviation - start with a large one' - is very apt.

I smiled at Wombats question about why there is only one R22 operating. If the operator could justify a turbine machine from the streams of people demanding service - I reckon there would be one brought on line, double quick time. The cost of leasing and delivery, added to the cost of type training and recurrent training, maintenance, fuel delivery etc. would not be a hurdle - but, before that could happen - approval must be sought. The AOC must be updated and re-issued; operations manuals, maintenance control, and a whole long list of 'requirements' must be met and paid for; that takes time and costs a fortune in monies which must be recovered through operating revenue. Break even for the first year would be a bloody good effort.

Then there's the flight training pipe dream. In the USA independent instructors are permitted; not so in Australia. Small flight schools have almost been wiped out, made non competitive through the regulations and the RaOZ medical system. Old mate could by a Tupperware aircraft, join RaOz and set up his shingle, may even earn enough to cover the insurance, fuel bill and RaOz levies. It would be a pastime occupation rather than the 'thriving' local flight school of days long gone by.

Nope; sorry too much; in the USA the regulatory and cost burdens promote aviation - encourage it even. Australia is quite the reverse, restricted, over governed and has an aviation industry which is obliged to 'make-a-knee' at the alter of do as we say - or else. Under the FAA rules, Wombat's dream of a 'busy' productive industry in small remote fields may be possible - under the current CASA approach and regulation it is a romantic notion. But, there's no harm in trying - start with a business plan and go to it. 

Aye well, so much for romantic pipe dreams then..........Toot - toot.

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