Well, there you have it. The first of the ‘new’ SportPilot magazines. I say new because it is the first publication in 12 months, following the untimely and tragic passing of Mark Smith last year. But it is also new in other ways.

Previously the magazine was delivered only to subscribers. This edition is being delivered to each one of the nearly 10,000 RAAus members and to over 20,000 people digitally. If you’re looking at the print edition, you will notice we have upgraded the print quality and updated the design to reflect this larger distribution. It is also a recognition of the fact that Recreational Aviation Australia has become a major force in Australian aviation. We also revisited the types of stories we want to tell. We used a simple rule of thumb; as pilots and aircraft owners, what would we want to read about? That has been our guiding principle in selecting the stories and features of this issue. We will be publishing 3 editions a year for now, with the next edition due at the end of the year and another edition to be released in March/April 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely curtailed most of our flying activities and I’m sure we are all looking forward to getting back in the air more frequently. I’m looking forward to getting to the fly-ins and air shows again and meeting you and talking about your experiences. Not being able to engage in that part of the production for the current edition has had its challenges. What I’m really looking forward to is climbing in the plane and setting off on an extended tour. Just before things went pear-shaped with COVID-19, we did a trip from Moorabbin, to Lethbridge our home airfield, to Canberra, Bathurst, Brisbane (Redcliffe), then back to Parkes and finally home again. This was over the course of 5 days and was a work trip, so we pushed on. It was a great chance to put in some hours and see a lot of country. As soon as we are allowed, I will be heading up to Queensland again for an extended stay and tour (and some warmth). This is the freedom that being a pilot allows. The ability to pick a spot on the map, climb in the plane and go there. The added bonus is the sheer joy of flight and a first-class view of the planet. I particularly like that wherever I land, there is someone who is always up for a chat. When we had a minor problem with a flat battery in Redcliffe, I was amazed at how the locals went out of their way to help us. I was reminded that we are a community in aviation. When we flew in to Canberra, the ATC were kind to us and then a Virgin Flight (Velocity) gave us priority for departure, an action which they didn’t have to take. Both small acts of kindness reminded me that it doesn’t matter what you fly, there is a bond amongst aviators.After almost 20 years of flying, I became a plane owner at the start of this year. That has introduced me to the wonders of hangar rentals, LAME conversations and dreams of upgrades. After the last Queensland trip, the first upgrade is an autopilot, which I will tell you about in the next edition. When you’re flying with another pilot, it’s not too bad. But when you are on alone on a 3+ hour leg and trying to navigate and communicate, an autopilot sounds like a great idea to me. Owning an aircraft, like being a pilot, was a lifetime ambition for me. It just took a little longer than I expected. But I have enjoyed the journey. I have enjoyed learning about aviation. (exams, not so much). I now have a whole lot of new information to process. I discovered along the way that in aviation, like life, you need to keep learning as you go along.

Bringing this edition together has been challenging and we couldn’t have done it without help. I’d like to thank the team at RAAus who have been incredibly supportive and helpful in bringing this edition together under trying circumstances. I’d also like to thank the contributors and advertisers who have made this edition possible as well as my editorial and production team who have gone above and beyond to get this to you. This is our first edition of SportPilot as a new team. Between hitting that learning curve and the limitations of COVID-19, we still think we have a lot more to add to the publications in the future. And we think that you, the readers, pilots, aircraft owners and enthusiasts will be a big part of that. We want to hear about your experiences, whether you’re a pilot or simply an aviation enthusiast. We’d like to hear about and see the aircraft you fly and the places you fly to. So, I invite you to send your stories, your ideas, your pictures and videos to us for publication in the magazine and on the web. Send it along to or visit the RAAus website for more information.

So, to all the pilots, future pilots, plane nuts and supporters, welcome back!