LAA Sywell 2013, Day 2

September 1st, 2013

Day 2 of the LAA fly-in at Sywell, Northamptonshire.

Lots more pics:

Yet more pics…..

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LAA Rally, Sywell, 2013

August 31st, 2013

In August every year, the UK’s Light Aircraft Association (LAA) holds a fly-in; this year it’s being held in Sywell, Northamptonshire. Here’s a few piccies of of the first days’ happenings.

Both Sandra & I felt that it wasn’t as busy as it has been in years past, but it was nice to look at all the aircraft and meet old friends, anyway.

This balloon went right over the top of us (obviously!)

And more pics…..

Note the guy being interviewed for Flyer magazine (UK)

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Blackhawk Down

August 20th, 2013

Blackhawk down

Blackhawk down

From Martin Hone: One-time riding buddy, Eric Bana, was nowhere to be seen when we had our own “Blackhawk Down” at Gatton Airpark today. A fuel-related issue will be keeping it at the airpark overnight, with a couple of hardy souls sleeping onboard for security, and it is going to be a cold night too…….

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Extra 300 Aerobatics

July 21st, 2013
Extra 300 aerobatics

Queensland copper and Gatton Airpark resident, Mark Gamer, does it in an Extra 300 off the California coast. Someone has to do it.

Thanks for the link, Mark.

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More From Michael Monck

July 18th, 2013

On 17/07/2013 11:02 AM, Michael Monck wrote:

Hi,

A few more weeks/months have passed since the February meeting and unfortunately things don’t seem to be getting better. It is hard to tell what is going on but from what I can gather our association is still going through some serious turmoil.

We have had three presidents since the February meeting. Steve Runciman was replaced by Ed Herring who has also since stood down and been replaced by Rod Birrell. There has been some other significant movements within the board with our treasurer resigning then taking on a paid position within the organisation (there may be questions about due process here and I can understand the cries from some members claiming it appears like a jobs for the boys situation). The public officer resigned from the association. The WA rep stood down from his position. All in the last few months.

The registration issue is still on going. Like many other members I have spoken I am directly affected by the issue. In my case there seems to be no simple answer as I have been informed that a piece of paper (indeed several pieces of paper) that were issued by RA-Aus and formed the basis of registration for my aircraft are not valid. In fact, I’ve been told that RA-Aus never had the authority to issue the paperwork and, despite the plane flying safely for some ten years now, it can no longer be registered as it was. The only option available at this stage is to register it as a single seat aircraft.

The numbers are interesting and the last time we had an idea of the total number of aircraft affected was at 26 March 2013 when we were told that 405 aircraft were caught in the backlog. I may be mistaken but I can’t find a further update to that so I can only assume it has gotten worse.

It’s clear to me that while Mark Clayton and Wayne Matthews are doing an outstanding job the board has guided our association into its worst position in history. Unfortunately it seems history is once again repeating itself and many of the seats due for election this time round have gone uncontested. There are 6 positions up for election and only one, in NSW, is being contested by more than one nominee. While this time round we have been lucky in that most of these seats have been filled by people who appear to be good candidates it does beg the question – if multiple good candidates are coming from one state then why does our present system prevent them from standing? I don’t know many of the other nominees for NSW very well but it looks as though there are some solid credentials in there. Why would we exclude these guys purely based on their place of residence? Of course we could simply re-elect the incumbent Dave Caban but before doing so I would suggest some serious questions need to be asked.

In his election statement he notes that he was the secretary from 2005 and it seems that he has had a period of continuing service on the board since then. One of the pieces of paper I referred to above in relation to my aircraft was issued in 2006. Dave also served as the Treasurer for a little under a year in 2009/10. What he doesn’t note is that the board asked him to step down from the position. He also mentions the “theory of a new broom sweeps clean” but dismisses this with “history and corporate knowledge is generally maintained with the on-going commitment of long standing board members ”. I would agree that corporate knowledge will be maintained if Dave is re-elected but would ask what use this is if the same knowledge led us to the point we are at today.

I still have concerns about the future of our association. I urge each and every one of you to firstly, take the opportunity to vote in the upcoming election and secondly, take the time to think about who you are voting for. Think about what they offer you as a member. Are they capable of delivering on their promises or will they just attend the board meetings and eat sandwiches?

For what it is worth I have worked with many organisations in the past that have faced similar issues as RA-Aus faces today. These organisations have successfully overcome their problems and are stronger as a result of the changes that have come in. They have done this not through stubbornness, instead they’ve pulled together to see what needs to be done and, as a team, they’ve done it. This is what RA-Aus needs to do now.

We need good governance, rational minds and a change from reactive decision making to forward looking strategic thinking. We need some solid leadership over the next few years so we can turn this turmoil into an opportunity for change and make some changes that result in RA-Aus being a bigger, better and stronger association for many years to come.

Please, take the time to vote and have your say. Spread the word to your fellow members and get them to vote as well. At risk of sounding morbid it may be the last chance we get if we don’t do it right this time around.

Cheers,

Michael Monck.

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1/3 Scale B-17

July 15th, 2013

1/3 scale B-17

1/3 scale B-17

Yes, believe it. Not R/C, but big enough for a real live pilot to sit in and fly.

As yet incomplete, but not too long, it’s believed.

Take a look:

 Link to site/a>

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A Letter from Dave Tonks

May 24th, 2013

Here’s a few words from RAAus member, Dave Tonks. He’s been having similar problems to many other members… myself included, with aircraft registration. Why don’t I let Dave have his say………

G’day youse lot

Well I finally went and did it – who says I don’t like to live dangerously !!! – nice little letter for ya’s to have a read of attached

I have probably painted a huge target on my back (and the side of my aircraft) but wtf…I don’t fly anywhere near Canberra anyway.  I’d like to hope some of you might consider doing something along the same idea?

The more cannons we have firing at The Target the better – even if we don’t hit’ em, there will be a lot of noise !!!!!

Cheers for now, look forward to your comments – text me on 0438 463 601 if ya like

Cropduster Dave

—————————————————————-

Letter to the Executive, Board, and Members of the RAAus

Firstly, I have to say that I am ashamed that I have, up until now, not made much of an attempt to properly involve myself in the deterioration of my Association (other than sending off the occasional proxy to those I considered capable of trying to rectify the abysmal situation the Association has descended into).

Yesterday, discussing flying with a good friend from my flying club, I discovered he had not been able to commit aviation for over three months – the reason? His aircraft (about $100,000 worth of magnificently pampered Tecnam) was not able to be re-registered by our organisation. Why? Because CASA had, on multiple occasions, failed our associations Safety Audits – not just once, but FOUR times! I had heard there was some problem in this respect (along with other minor problems like looming lawsuits and aircraft importers having a million dollars’ worth of aircraft sales in limbo), but as these issues did not affect me personally I chose to not really get involved – as stated above, I am ashamed about that.

Time to resolve that issue. As a member of my Association I am absolutely astounded that the management of the organisation could deteriorate to the extent that CASA Safety Audits could fail even once, let alone four times in a row – I also find it astounding that the organisations management at the time of the first failure could not either foresee the initial failure, let alone not be able (or competent enough) to initiate measures to address the situation immediately.

The ultralight ‘movement’ in Australia has been something of a revolution – with the introduction of magnificent new aircraft and much reduced costs, less restrictive legislation and much less red tape, the move to ultralights has gained a huge amount of interest from the long-suffering GA sector. But what do those considering the option of RAAus think of the opportunity right now? An organisation that is forced to ground numerous aircraft (and withholds the registration of new aircraft) due to several failures of CASA Safety Audits? RAAus would not be an option I would consider.

With the failure of a portion of the organisations operations due to ineffectual management of the Association (go ahead and tell me there is someone else to blame here) we risk becoming the laughing stock of the aviation arena in Australia – both the general public and the GA community must be wondering: if an organisation can fail four CASA Safety Audits in a row, how can such an organisation be considered as a viable option? As far as the general public is concerned (particularly those who are aware of the failed safety Audits), I suspect they will be saying “well, no wonder there are so many fatalities in ultralights, the governing body cannot even manage the organisation to achieve a pass at a CASA Safety Audit!!!

This letter will be sent to all current Board Members, and it will also be sent to the Editor of Sport Pilot magazine (our magazine – not the magazine for the organisation to express its opinion, but the magazine for ALL members of the organisation to make their personal feelings known to both the Executive and their fellow members. If this statement is not published, then I expect an explanation as to why that has occurred. I am a fully paid up member of this organisation and I have a right to express my opinion and have it heard by all other members.

If it is too long for publication, publish the major parts and inform members of my email address so I can send them the entire letter. My personal feelings are as follows:

We need to resolve the incredibly important issues that have developed over the years that have put our organisation in serious jeopardy. Sometimes “the buck stops at the top” is not completely accurate, but in this case I honestly believe it does. How do you think this state of affairs has developed? Pure chance? Bad luck? A litany of circumstances that unfortunately resulted in a dramatically disastrous outcome? Sorry, I don’t buy that and I suspect the majority of members feel the same way.

What our organisation needs right now is a change of management – we need a brand new Executive. One that will place the organisation at the forefront of their focus, with professional, accountable and steadfast dedication to the development of the Association and all that it can be. It can be something spectacular, promoting the ultralight concept to not only the GA community, but also the public in general. A little more transparency and a lot less secrecy would be a good starting point. That’s not happening at the moment.

We have a spectacular opportunity here – we can either continue on in the manner that we have been (with obvious disastrous consequences, as proven by recent events) or we can establish a new, bold-thinking Executive to effectively manage our Association to promote growth, pursue safety for the saving of lives and the advancement of public relations for both the GA community and the public.

My opinions (as stated above) have been made clear to the pilots and members of the Association that I am in contact with – what I have said to them is this. What happens now is in your hands – the choice is yours, and I for one think that choice is an obvious one – it’s simple, really. We can keep on the way we have been going, or you can make your voice heard and say it out loud – We desperately need a brand new Executive and some modern-thinking, professional and enthusiastic people running this organisation to take it forward. Dismiss the past, focus on the future, and we can look forward to many years of flying under the umbrella of an Executive that will leave no stone unturned to ensure this magnificent pastime we love so much will never again be compromised.

I am naturally aware that a relatively small band of stalwarts have been working tirelessly to try to resolve these hugely important issues that are currently destroying our organisation – to them, I say this. I am ashamed that up until now I have been a spectator in this debacle, but no more. This letter is the first shot in anger I have fired, but it certainly won’t be the last.

To the Board members who have openly fought an improper, Machiavellian response to the wishes of members of the Association (e.g., by actively seeking proxies so as to stifle debate and deliberately undermine the attempts of members to FIX the problem), I suggest you take a long hard look at yourselves and honestly consider whether that behaviour was a proper and professional response to the situation. To all members who think this situation is going to go away soon without significant staffing changes of the Executive, think again.

Ignore the situation and your future as a Recreational Pilot (and the concept of affordable, professionally managed and wonderfully enjoyable aviation) will most likely continue to be at significant risk.

Finally, another important note. I have been advised by members who have made similar comments to those in this letter to expect vitriol and insults from certain persons in positions of authority in this organisation – how professional is that? I certainly won’t be entering into any slanging matches, but I will be passing on any vitriolic or unprofessional responses to this (and future) correspondence in this matter.

P.S. To those Board members who have seen the need for urgent changes to our organisation in order to protect it and see it go forward, I say THANK YOU, keep up the good fight, and be assured there are many like myself who are about to come out of the woodwork !

David A Tonks 20/5/2013 signed via Email

 

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Michael Monck announces candidacy for RAAus board

May 9th, 2013

Another email from Michael Monck in which he announces his intention to stand for the RAAus Board. If you live in NSW, vote for Michael!

 

Hi,

It’s been a while since I have sent out an email so I figure it’s about time for an update. Once again, I apologise for the length of this email.

While I would like to say that things are positive unfortunately I can’t. It seems to me that the association is leaping from one extraordinary mess to another. In recent times the board has made a range of promises to get things back on track. These promises were made at the February general meeting and reiterated more recently at NatFly. Several things, however, seemed to have gone off the rails.

One of the most significant of these is the work of the restructure committee that was formed following the February meeting. Geoff Kidd put his hand up to help guide this process but recent events have seen him left less than satisfied with the progress and he has reluctantly stepped away from it in disgust.

While there are a number of reasons for Geoff’s decision two are quite concerning. The first is a response to a question Geoff himself asked at the February meeting and related to legal actions being taken by Ibis aircraft owners. The question is referenced in the minutes* and was directed to Steve Runciman in a straight forward manner – “I’ll specifically ask you, have any Ibis owners, as a group or individually foreshadowed or indicated that they intend to take legal action against the RA AUS”?

Steve Runciman’s response was also straight forward – “I’m certainly not aware of any legal action that maybe forthcoming from the Ibis owners.”

I won’t go as far as saying Steve lied to the membership but two things come to mind. The first is that he made no attempt to consult with the remaining board members to seek further information. The second is that Geoff has since found out that, at the time of the meeting, Ibis owners had indeed made hints that they were considering their legal options and at least one of the board members was aware of this.

The second major point that led to Geoff’s resignation relates to insurance. This is one of the single biggest expenses that RA Aus faces on an annual basis and is also one of the most significant in terms of its legal and financial ramifications. To ensure the best deal was obtained for members a competitive tender process was initiated. Peter Bugg, an insurance specialist and member, was engaged to provide input into the process and assess the responses to the tender. Mike Smith, a board member, and Andy Saywell, an ordinary member, also participated in the process. It should be noted that Peter Bugg did not tender for the work himself and instead acted on behalf of members and the association in an independent manner.

A clear recommendation was put forward to engage one of the brokers that responded to the tender process with the terms and conditions they provided being more favourable than anything RA Aus had seen in the past. The efforts of these members who donated their expertise and time free of charge was ignored by the executive with little substance in terms of an explanation. The insurance provider chosen did not participate in the tender process and actively sought to withhold certain details of their proposal from those evaluating the offers. The only thing I can come up with thus far is the following email from Myles Breitkreutz supplied by someone else who wasn’t happy with the process:

“Hello Steve,

I am concerned with all RA-Aus members benefits and protection and feel comfortable with the decision made to carry on with the current insurer for another term. By doing this I know that the members are covered, sure it may not be the best cover then again it may be, the time was too short to evaluate all tenders to the extent needed to make such an important decision.

However the members have coverage and we now have time to review the insurance issue and get the right scheme and benefits to cover the members into the future.

You know it wasn’t long ago that we had no insurance, and it might surprise some that the insurance came out of our business plan as did our own building and our corporate policy and so on, there are still things like our own airfield but planned things take time especially when all members are affected.

Cheers Myles”

I can’t get much out of this except for a number of things:

  • The board did not have time to evaluate the tender responses (insurance is a regular expense and the expiry is known well ahead of time so I can only assume they left it too late to do anything about it)
  • The board is not sure if the choice of brokers is the right one or not or if RA Aus got the best deal for its members
  • The board has acknowledged that it is “such an important’ decision but not made arrangements to give it the treatment it deserves (reminds me of the lack of response to the CASA audits that led to aircraft being grounded and makes me wonder what other important matters aren’t being dealt with appropriately)
  • The Treasurer who is responsible for ensuring adequate fiduciary care is taken when spending the associations money is not sure if this is the best decision
  • At some point in the recent past we had NO INSURANCE!!! Were you aware that RA Aus was being managed in such a way???

In short, the board (and especially the executive) has once again demonstrated that it is a law unto itself and will not listen to the guidance of its members, sub committee’s or, it seems, anyone else that might provide an alternative view point to their own. Their actions are clearly contradictory to the words they have spoken to members.

It’s time that things change. I urge each and every one of you to vote at the next election. The current board and executive is slowly destroying our organisation and I fear, if left to their own devices, will slowly but surely erode our privileges until we no longer have the right to fly.

There are several positions due for election this year and I will be running for one of them in NSW. If you don’t like what you are reading in this email then please, give me a call and see if I am the right person to represent you and our association in the future. I have attached a flyer and a draft election statement for your review. Please circulate it amongst your fellow flyers as you see fit.

I also ask that you forward this email on to anyone you think might be interested in knowing what is really happening with RA Aus.

Thanks for your time,

Michael Monck

*It’s worth noting that the Secretary is required by the constitution and thus the law to provide minutes of any general meeting within 30 days of that meeting taking place. The Secretary (and therefore the board) opted not to meet this obligation and instead posted a copy of a transcript of the meeting on the RA-Aus website choosing to call it minutes. To this date the actual minutes have not been made available to the members. Furthermore, the NatFly general meeting was held more than 30 days ago and as far as I am aware we haven’t had any minutes from that meeting either. Yet another display of their blatant disregard for members and the rules under which an incorporated association must operate…

 
Michael Monck Flyer
 
Michael Monck Story

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Winkle Brown, Living Legend

April 24th, 2013

You’ve probably never heard of ‘Winkle’ Brown, reckoned by some to be the greatest pilot ever. And he probably is.

Here’s a BBC article about the man… perhaps you’ll agree, like me, about what has kept him alive over the years. Meticulous preparation. I’ll think of him next time I jump in the aeroplane, after doing a thorough pre-flight check. I figure the less chances you give fate to “take you out”, the better.

Anyway, enjoy…

Winkle Brown, greatest pilot ever

Thanks for the link, Martin. Shoulda picked that up, shouldn’t I?

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Tribute to Wayne Fisher

April 6th, 2013

Somebody (ausadvancedelectrical) has put together a video of Wayne Fisher at Evans Head….

Nice video. A big loss.

Thanks for the link, Martin.

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