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A Letter from Dave Tonks

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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One Comment

  1. Colin says:

    Hey All,

    This post seems to have generated a lot of comments…. all of them off-line. If you have something you’d like to say on the topic, please feel free to add your comments here; it’s all grist for the mill.

    I’m beginning to worry that the RAAus is beyond saving. If you fear this too, speak up!


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