It’s always slightly odd that our year-end issue is the January one. We usually go to print every four weeks and so in the course of the year we publish earlier and earlier in the month. This means that we get the January issue onto the shelves with plenty of time for the Christmas holidays and the customary leisurely reading.
We always bring you something special for January, and this year I am thrilled that we have been able to scoop the first ever civilian flight review of the amazing Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II. Read the review and decide if you still think it was a colossal mistake.
For helicopter fans, we bring you the first Robinson R44 Cadet to be imported into South Africa, and just the fourth to come off the production line. It’s great to see South Africa’s flying schools keeping their world class reputation by investing in new state-of the art equipment.
I get the sense that the South African business psyche is dazed from taking endless hits from a government where corruption has become the new norm. When you get sucked into all the noise of the endless news feeds, the country appears to be going downhill fast – it is still on the edge of an investment ratings precipice. And the malaise has even spread to rugby, where we lose to second tier teams like Italy.
The economy might not statistically be in depression, but I get the sense that the national business mood is depressed. This affects aviation particularly badly as it is an industry which requires both passion and courage. It needs passion to overcome the regulatory hurdles and it needs courage to invest the capital required to start and fund an airline or charter business. How far the industry has slumped is evidenced by the paucity of sales of new aircraft. Aircraft builders and sellers are saying that buyers are just sitting on their hands, hoping for things to get better.
However, the news is not all bad. As expected, the biennial Africa Aerospace and Defence expo provided a boost to the local industry. This is reflected in support for our magazines, where advertising, which is the life blood of publications such as this one, has been remarkably constant. For that I am grateful to our loyal advertisers.
Behind the scenes, I yielded to pressure from my staff who wanted to work from home. In the middle of the year my wife and I moved to Simon’s Town in the Cape, and there didn’t seem any good reason not to let our staff try the work from home thing. I’m pleased to say that it has largely worked out okay. The magazine still comes out on time and to the standard you have come to expect. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my loyal staff who have shown a dedication and maturity to getting the job done.
I wish all our readers a happy and safe festive season and a prosperous new year.