Dealing with the impacts of COVID has created many challenges over the past year, which none of us could have thought was possible a year earlier. Nevertheless, we have been actively setting up the club and the flying school to cope with the ever changing environment to manage our way through the mire and keep the engine of the club turning over.
The hardest hit by the COVID shut downs has been our instructors as they have lost a significant part of their livelihood. May I ask that when we get back, you keep any bookings you make as late cancellations hit the back pocket of our staff.
We as a club can hold our head high, as we have kept the airport open to emergency services, who continue to use the airport several times a week accessing fuel while undertaking law enforcement, fire flighting/prevention and other services.
Additionally, throughout the year members continued to provide Angel Flights to make the lives of many people in the regions a little better by accessing city hospitals for specialist treatment. I admire our pilots who give up their time and offer their aircraft to deliver a wonderful service to regions for free.
I also need to thank the members for their compliance with the COVID directions and doing the right thing. I recognise we are a large part of the Tyabb community and it is important we show leadership and act responsibly and correctly. I feel that everyone has done their part to do the right thing.
Financially, whilst difficult, we have managed to keep our head above water and stay on an even keel. Fortunately we qualified for several government grants to help offset some of our losses. Ian Johnson and Sue Verran have done a fabulous job in managing our finances and staying on top of things and working with the State and Federal agencies to obtain these grants.
We had an unexpected one off expenditure when we were preparing for the increase in air pilots award adjustment, when we found a historical error that required us to make a back payment to staff. This caused us to undertake an audit and rectify the situation and make good the gap, which is now finalised. We have now put in place a more frequent and rigorous process to ensure we remain better informed and have changed the employment conditions to manage this into the future.
Never far from my mind is our safety agenda, over the year we organised two CASA evenings to discuss safety with Tim Penny, which all adds to our bank of safety knowledge and improvements. Our HOO, Gerard Lappin, has also been out there amongst the members continuing to support those needing to improve their skills and sharing with us his thoughts on making our flying safer with articles in the TTF during lockdown.
As many of us have had very little airtime this year, because of COVID, we all need to be mindful that we will not be as current as usual. Our instructors are ready to support you with a check flight to ensure we ourselves are airworthy.
This year we saw the completion of two major projects, being the construction of the hangars and tractor shed. The hangars will provide the club with an ongoing source of income for many years to come as well as provide homes to aircraft that would otherwise be parked outside.
The Club’s tractor shed has now been completed, which has freed up a lost hangar spot in the club’s T-hangar, which we all know was a long time coming and took a VCAT hearing to finally get approved.
Our thanks needs to go to both Brian Kholar and Peter Cutting for managing all of these projects which is a great step forward in new facilities and improvements for all members.
Over the past 12 months we spent more time than we would have liked in VCAT resolving issues, which should have been done at Council, had it not been for the Shire attempting to apply unrelated conditions to permits or attempting to make application for baseless enforcement orders.
We were successful in obtaining costs from the Shire when VCAT ruled the Shire was standing in our way and blocking our application, and the second issue was our successful application for existing use rights to have the “Church Hour” removed from our permit over a Sunday church service that had not taken place since 1978.
The Shire also decided to withdraw from its VCAT application for enforcement orders, for reasons best known to them alone, although we could not see any grounds for such an action in the first place.
This year we have made a VCAT application to the seek a Declaration on our permits as well as obtain existing Use Rights across all of our airport operations for what we have been doing for almost 60 years. This will not get resolved until 2022, however the process is now in train and will hopefully forever resolve any discussion about our permit conditions and activities. I must recognise Judy Pay in all of her assistance and the many many hours supporting me in dealing with these legal matters.
This year Kellie Gavin has joined us and has taken over from Lisa Waugh in Flight Operations. Kellie has already started to stamp her mark on things and we see new improvements every day.
David Bell has decided to retire from the school and is looking to find a retirement place nearer the sun and sea later this year. I wish David well in his retirement and thank him for all of the great service he has given PAC.
Barry Aldatmaz and Jason Tang have joined our instructor staff, and both gentlemen have great experience and skill to teach new students, and some of us older members, new competencies.
Chris Brown volunteered his services by helping us improve our IT systems with better stability and speed as well as upgrade our very old phone systems, which has been of great help to the club.
Ilona Patience has also helped us make the transition from MYOB to Xero accounting facilities to ready our systems for more extensive IT systems upgrades.
I need to thank our Committee for their support and help during the year and for all of the volunteered time they put into the Club to keep the grass and runways in good shape, the bar and kitchen compliant, events management, buildings, parking and hangarage as well as legal, Council and communications and lastly the financial management of the club under such difficult times.
Ray Taylor (VP & Events)
Peter Bernardi (IPP & Runways)
Steve Bull (Mowing & Competitions)
Ian Johnson (Treasurer & TTF)
Stephen Braim (Secretary & Comms)
Judy Pay (Community and Government affairs)
Luke Bramston (Bar & Kitchen)
Peter Cutting & Brian Kholar (Building Project)
Martin Cartlidge & Ray Jarvis (Hangarage)
Paul Lucas (Cross Hire Aircraft)
Whilst we had to postpone the airshow for 2022, we are still looking to coordinate a couple of smaller events such as open days and possibly a STOL competition. Ray Taylor is closely keeping an eye on things and following the Events COVID directions to understand what we can manage.
With any luck this first event will be a turning point for PAC, as I am hopeful this COVID fog will lift and we will emerge into sunshine to restart all of our operations and get back to what we like to do best, and that is, aviation.