It is an occupational hazard of my job as Editor of these magazines that I become something of a lightning conductor for people’s frustration with the industry and with the regulator – the SACAA in particular.
Ever since the political transition and the implementation of affirmative action policies to redress the institutional discrimination of the past, the old ‘blow-hards’ have loved to moan about the lack of knowledge and experience of the newly appointed CAA inspectors and managers.
The stories these old dinosaurs will regale any sympathetic ear with are legion: An inspector who stopped a pilot refuelling a Caravan turboprop with JetA1 because it had a propeller and so required Avgas; the inspector who grounded a Tiger Moth because it didn’t have a park brake (Tigers don’t have any brakes).
And then there are the more serious stories of real economic damage that make people give up flying and sell their planes to the first buyer at give-away prices: The Citation that sat on the ground for months because the CAA wanted a mod approval for an already approved new GPS aerial. The endless production of yet more restrictive regulations, and now South Africa’s go-it-alone implementation of Part 93 to control Corporate Aviation.
Another particularly galling failure is the gross unreasonableness of the CAA’s Instrument Rating exam. I am told that not one PPL has passed it in 18 months – despite the fact that it was supposedly designed to give PPLs a practical grounding in IFR and thus encourage more competent and thus safer pilots. Further, I believe that the industry-wide pass rate from professional flight schools for this exam is an appalling 20%. I hear of schools that, after doing everything in their power to get their students through, are now recommending that the students complete their licences in the USA. These are real failures by the CAA that are costing the industry dearly, and – I need to say it yet again – reinforce the image of the CAA as the ‘Commission Against Aviation’.
I could go on and on. But on all pilots’ behalf, Chris Martinus of AOPA has been fighting a fierce campaign to push back some of the CAA’s more unreasonable actions and bigger blunders. There are those who love him and those who despise his attack-dog tactics.
Not surprisingly, the SACAA have considered him a thorn in their side for years. Since we haven’t given the SACAA as much space in the magazine as AOPA, I am thrilled to be able to publish verbatim a lengthy letter from the SACAA – some may consider it a tirade – against Martinus and AOPA. This is a no-holds barred personal attack and, if nothing else, it makes good journalism, as it goes some way to allowing the SACAA to blow off steam and redress the past space imbalance.
No doubt the CAA’s confidence in launching such an attack was bolstered by their recent good result with the ICAO audit. Read Martinus’s column on Part 93 and then the SACAA’s letter, and decide for yourself who to support.
A feature of this year’s Race for Rhinos in Botswana was the high level of rainfall having made the usual venue at Kubu Island too wet. So the large race village was built on the shores of the flooded Sua Pan.
Watching the African sun set into the shimmering pan made it an idyllic venue, and, thanks to Botswana’s freedom in the skies, also allowed for spectacular afternoon ‘airshows’.
A highlight this year was undoubtedly Jason Beamish taking the AN2 ‘Little Annie’ water-skiing. The shore of Sua Pan was lined with spectators hoping to capture the scene. Eksteen Jacobsz did so beautifully. He used his Nikon D750 with a 600 mm focal length, low ISO-64, F/8 and shutter speed of 1/200 to get a sharp image in low light, while still capturing the movement.