Welcome to my blog.

In 2008, I received a trial flight in a light aircraft - a flight which changed my life. After a mere thirty minutes in an asthmatic old Cessna, I decided I would become a pilot. It was love at first flight. As Leonardo Da Vinci famously said - Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

However, like any relationship, there were highs (and there were puns!) and there were many moments where I thought I would never grasp this new skill.

After fifteen instructors, six flying schools and enough tears to fill a dam, I became a private pilot. And, because of a strong masochistic streak, I decided to study for my Commercial Pilot's Licence.

This blog is a working narrative of my time as a pilot, through my personal writing, my round Australia trip and my career as an aviation journalist, magazine editor, customer engagement manager for AvPlan EFB and aircraft salesperson for Cirrus Sydney.

Aviation has changed my life: through learning to fly I have discovered a part of myself that is resilient, organised and capable of great joy as a result of hard work, setbacks and learning.

In the words of Socrates, “Man must rise above the Earth – to the top of the atmosphere and beyond – for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”

Thanks for reading, and please feel free to email me with advice and suggestions on


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An Open Letter to Everyone Involved in General Aviation in Australia

An Open Letter to Everyone Involved in General Aviation in Australia

Dear Friend of GA,

We’re taking the unusual step of publicly seeking your support for our work as representatives of Australian general aviation.

GA faces challenges like never before. Through CASA, the government is accelerating major regulatory change that will affect every private or commercial pilot, aircraft owner and maintenance business. As you would be well aware, government policies for airport privatisation and full cost recovery have already hit our industry hard. 

Unless GA speaks up, the future will bring further limitations and restrictions that will destroy our natural advantage of flexibility and threaten our viability.

Many people dropped their AOPA membership in years past because of instability and wasteful expenditure.  The current AOPA Committee is determined not to let that happen again.

Put simply, I’m writing to ask you to give AOPA another chance.

Recently, on your behalf, the AOPA Committee has: 

  • Prepared detailed responses to CASA and attended meetings to advocate more GA-friendly provisions in the new Part 61, 91, 141, 142, 145, aviation medical, ageing aircraft and other regulations
  • Actively engaged with the Australian Strategic Air Traffic Management Group and the Bureau of Meteorology to make sure that GA, and not just the airlines, have a say on vital air traffic management, airspace planning, satellite-based navigation, weather and other services
  • Reintroduced the AOPA aviation scholarships with the support of Airservices Australia
  • Held seminars around the country, actively promoting general aviation safety and making contact with our members.

For the past three years, we have been taking hard decisions that saw us reduce costs and return the Association to profitability, yet at the same time, improve our magazine and update our member benefits program. AOPA now has a positive bank balance and a healthy financial outlook for the future.

We also re-affiliated with IAOPA, the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilots Associations, through which we’re part of the AOPA family in other countries and have access developments at ICAO. This is particularly important as we struggle to deal with proposals for EASA-based regulations, which suit the airlines but leave GA out in the cold.

No one on AOPA’s Committee is paid for their services, putting in their time, and in some cases bearing significant personal expense, for GA's benefit.  Our staff work hard to do the best they can, but we are missing one critical element.


I know too well what it’s like to feel let down. I resigned from AOPA myself during turbulent times, but rejoined once that was over.

If you were once a member and walked, please come back. We need your support. 

Without individual members, AOPA is not just financially threatened, but cannot claim the support of the GA industry as it deals with an ever-increasing number of challenges ahead.

Some people think we should give up, and others say we should turn our backs on government and refuse to engage them. Those approaches will only harm us further, not help, and leave us voiceless as government and the airlines continue to pursue policies to push us out. 

To be effective, we have to be active, rational, credible and professional at the table. Screaming from the sidelines, when your team is short by three players, won’t ever change the result. 

Our affiliate program makes it easy for members of other aviation groups to join us too. Your primary organisation’s affiliation, whether an aircraft type or flying club, school or commercial operation, is highly appreciated, but it’s not enough. We need your support as an individual too.

AOPA does its best to work closely with other aviation organisations, but AOPA is the only one that truly represents the full spectrum of GA activity: IFR, VFR, helicopter and fixed-wing, aerial work and charter, owner-flown, instructional and private hire.  

If you do any of these things, regardless of your membership of other organisations, we need the weight of your voice as an individual AOPA member.

Joining, or re-joining AOPA is easy! And if you’re a member of one of our affiliates, we have special savings for you.

Just click below to sign up online:
or phone the AOPA office on (02) 9791 9099

This letter has taken longer than I would like, but explaining things properly frequently does. I urge you to help us keep doing that on behalf of GA.

If you have any questions, or want to know more about the Association’s work, please email us at  mail@aopa.com.au or call the office, leave a message, and one of us will get right back to you.

Please, help us secure a future for GA.


Andrew Andersen, President
Cessna 182 owner and pilot

 and with the unanimous support of the AOPA Committee:

Phillip Reiss, Vice-President and Immediate Past-President,
Twin Comanche owner/pilot and former corporate aviation chief pilot
Jeff Muller, Vice-President
Cessna 337 and L-39 owner/pilot
Col Rodgers, Treasurer and Past-President
Beech Bonanza and Harvard owner/pilot
Spencer Ferrier, Secretary
Aviation lawyer and pilot

Allan Bligh
Aircraft sales executive and aero club President and pilot

Peter Holstein
Helicopter flight school owner, CFI and ATO

Tony van der Spek,
Twin Comanche owner/pilot and DAME

Neill Rear
Cessna 180 and Cirrus owner/pilot

and our dedicated staff, including:

Steve Crocker, CEO, former flight school owner, CFI, commercial pilot

Kylie Lovell, Office Manager

Kreisha Ballantyne-Dickes, Publications Editor and pilot