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Mobile Flying Training Facilities

Guest TOSGcentral

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Guest TOSGcentral

This thread is being started to give some explanation, and invite some thought, into what a Mobile Flying Training Facility is.


Motz’s thread “I kid you not†in the Accidents and Incidents forum brought the subject up consequentially and it may have baffled a lot of readers because there has only ever been one of these schools.


The Mobile FTF is just that – a normal FTF that meets all the parameters of any other FTF but is able to relocate itself as much as it wishes – providing it is operating sensibly from a suitable airstrip (and that has never been really defined because it hit the too hard basket when the subject was broached a few years ago) .


The basis for this has appeared in all of the Ops Manuals and the relevant passage that allows the facility is as follows:


“3.01 – 3. a. A permanent or mobile office classroom of sufficient size and comfort to enable the proper ground instruction of trainee pilots. Etc etc.â€Â


Also of significance is 3.01.2 which states “….an ultralight FTF must be given written approval to operate by the Operations Managerâ€Â.


OK – there is a clear basis and the Mobile should be approved and inspected as any other FTF is. But the benefits of the Mobile are potentially huge! The following are my personal thoughts on the subject.


An FTF is a business like any other and requires a sufficient customer base to continue operating. If the customer base falls to marginal or below break-even levels then standards may fall and/or reliance be placed on other activities rather than primarily flying training (eg a lot of “joy rides†for income masquerading as TIFs).


The majority of successful schools are therefore near population centres where the small percentage of people who actually want to become pilots are sufficient – or – the FTF has sufficient reputation to draw in enough customers, in sufficient volume, from long distances for one or two weeks of block training.


As a result of all this it is once again, and for very similar commercial reasons, the country folk who receive the poorest service at National level. In our game that has some unfortunate consequences. A great deal of the ultralight “cowboy†image is a direct product of poor basic training services and then inadequate supply of follow up support to either maintain or improve standards.


Lacking such facilities it is not surprising that pilots evolve their own attitudes and “airmanship†based on what they think is a good idea, especially if the guy in the next paddock is doing the same thing so it looks “normal activityâ€Â, and especially within a control environment where it is impossible for the “Controller†based in Canberra to cover the entire country let alone have a permanent presence there.


A lot of the country flying is also quite different and demands high levels of skills and training. Aircraft are used for bore and fence inspections, aerial stock spotting, mustering etc and are operating from anywhere flat enough to get up and down again. That can be demanding flying and you do need as much support as possible to keep a safe operation.


The Mobile FTF is a practical solution to these issues. It can provide a good standard of basic training and then periodic follow up training, BFRs, endorsements, advice, example and all the rest of what goes with an established FTF.


It can do that because while Wup Wup does not have a sustainable customer base, if you add the Black Stump, Goanna Gully, plus a few properties in between, then add to that some support services like oil, instrument and parts contacts, aircraft sales etc – the Operator can have a good business rotating around these and the Country areas are getting what both they and our Movement need – good standards coverage that is sustained, even if periodically.


There has however only been one Mobile FTF. Physically it was/still is a very large tri-axle caravan/trailer. It contained sleeping quarters and kitchen for the Operator, a radio room, toilet and storage space. The back of the unit comprised a triple function area. This was a lounge/TV area in the evenings, an ample lecture room during the day, and when on the move the back of the unit swung down like a horse float and the area became a wheel in, secure undercover transport for a de-rigged Thruster.


The Thruster was chosen because it is simple enough to maintain and service, rugged enough to withstand the strips it would operate from and exacting enough to produce a good quality student pilot.


Once in location the Mobile had large external awnings/annex that provided outdoor shade between flights and overnight undercover tie down for the aircraft.


So why did it not work – what went wrong?


I am not sure entirely! I know there were a lot of difficulties with the Operator that turned into a running battle with AUF/RAAus. There were also difficulties with customers (some of whom I am still attempting to help out several years later) and in itself this aspect began restricting where the Mobile was welcome – or it was practical to take it.


A common feature I heard frequently was a bit infantile. This was that the Mobile could just move onto an airfield with an established FTF and pinch the trade. In fact it seemed to be the reverse! When the Mobile made bookings and pre-advertising at a country centre it could find that coastal schools flew in and set up a short term Satellite operation (that I doubt was inspected by AUF/RAAus because of time constraints) and undercut the Mobile school.


So the demise of the Mobile can be put down basically to very questionable practice on the part of the Operator in conjunction with a gutless AUF management that did not dare take the Operator on – so the situation festered and a great many people were hurt by a situation that should have given them a great deal of benefit.


In effect I believe the situation was allowed to deteriorate until the Operator eventually screwed himself with his antics and an outside authority took him really to task – by putting him in jail. That got RAAus off the decision hook and they could then follow up with a Disciplinary Panel to remove the authorities and ratings – which to their credit they did (and still had a hard time doing it).


But none of that had anything to do with the concept or basic legality of the Mobile FTF itself – and the business was sold to Bill Bendal who operates out of Roma. I am going to be blunt here and I trust Bill will forgive me for some of the things I say – but we need to see the situation clearly.


Bill purchased the business on the basis of the trailer, aircraft, a heap of contacts and council approvals to operate, plus trade contacts for supply of saleable commodities – the whole lot being an approved and currently operating concern. The trailer was OK (maybe a bit run down – I am not really sure), the aircraft was a dangerous wreck, and the contacts were not forthcoming.


But the big crunch was that RAAus (or the CEO anyway) refused to authorise transfer to another owner and wanted the Mobile closed down! Bill was really stuck and a long way out of pocket.


He should have acted more firmly in my view. There is allowance for a Mobile in our Movement (quoted above) but permission for it was withheld by a paid manager – it seems to be as basic as that! That should, and in fact, could not have been done. For the Mobile provision to be removed from our ordinance that can only be done by the Board followed by a change in the Ops Manual.


Bill should have taken an appeal to the Board and backed that up with legal action against RAAus to recoup his losses if the movement went against its own written provisions. Bill of course would not do that – he is too nice a bloke and wants to enhance the system, not attack it! So he has had to wear it and anything I tried to do to help was met with the usual silence that I am now accustomed to for “tricky subjectsâ€Â


So my summation is that probably due to weakness and/or some kind of personality clash the Mobile was at least run aground while inland Australia (and our overall movement) lost a potentially massive resource. Bill should be allowed his mobile school (he is a good, careful and standards driven operator and a straight honest guy to boot with a good “country touch†about him.


A Mobile would not be for everyone but would be a magic flying lifestyle for some. Constant variety, interesting places, building a network of contacts and regular visits, needing a few other selling lines that customers need etc etc. I think we should have at least one in each of the Regions, perhaps regulated to their territory but also able to get together inland at centres and maybe put on a real intensive ultralight presence once in a while. That would equate to more member catchment and better on-going standards.


That demonstrably does not seem to be what RAAus wants – but stuff them! What do the members want?







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Tosg.. once again, an exellent post...so another Bill bought the school after Captain Bill had it??... I feel we need to distinguish between the two... the new Bill isn't the old Bill..ok, that sorted out...lol


I feel for the new Bill.. the moble school in my mind was an outstanding idea.. i can't see how we can afford NOT to have them.. There are so many cockeys out there flyin around there own paddocks lookin for cattle and so on, and while i respect the fact that Recreational aviation is just that, recreational, i don't see why it should be contained to just the flying for fun thing.. These guys need the RAA to operate and keep current..otherwise its expensive helicopters or equally expensive teams of men out on horses and bikes ...


And also, what about the guy's who just want to learn in the more remote areas?? Just like the angel flight commercial on tv, 680 miles to a heart specialist, i bet its just as far to a flying school..


I have spent a good part of my life in the bush and have felt the dissconectedness thats involved with being 4 hours drive from your nearest woolworths..


Its a little discouraging to hear the oppostion met by the RAA, after they let it go on for so long in dangerous hands.. Like i said before, why throw the baby out with the bathwater...the idea, no, the NEED for it is even more real then it was 10 years ago..


The RAA id run out of canberra is it not..its a typical 'canberra' thing to neglect the remote areas, im not gunna harp on about this but untill yav lived out there and seen the treatment from a Cityminded govt, you can't fully understand...


Anyway.. Its my humble opinion that the moblie school should be saported by the RAA and indeed all of us members who enjoy our freedoms and closeness to good facility's..


Perhaps there's sopmething we can all do for the new Bill?? A partition or something of the like.. Mabye a story in the Mag would spark some interest...hmmmm...ill have a think about that.... I see that 20 odd ppl had read tosg post before me and not one reply....obviously 20 guys who live just up the road from there airstrips??lol...comon guys... we need to take our exellent organisation and sport to the four corners...


my 2 cents



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....obviously 20 guys who live just up the road from there airstrips??

Given the pressures on the airfields near population centres, rather more us might end up having to fly from country airfields !


But getting back on topic - this seems a complete no-brainer to me. If "new" Bill is appropriately rated and suitable to operate a school in a fixed location, I can't see why a mobile one should be any different.





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yea..good point regarding the airstrip thing..a nobrainer is exactly what it is...


The first ultralight i ever saw was when working on a remote cattle property about ohhh, let me see, 15 years ago...the owner of the station had what he called his 'killkyte'...it looked like a single seat drifta from memory but im sure it wasn't a drifta.. He never had lessons on it, didn't have a licence, and had pranged it a few times...he used it to spot and move cattle around his property..


i hadn't done any flying at the time but i always had an interest... he told me he read a few books, watched a few videos and taxied it up and down the strip (if you could call it that) for a few hours before one day it just hopped up into the air...the guy didnt have much of an idea about what was going on, but he seemed to fly it ok...between trees and very very slow.....he said, " thats the idea with these flyin things, ive got her to slow a few times and she seems to just fall outof the sky...its probably only his proximety to the ground that kept him alive...


There are many many guys out there doing the same sorta thing....


gee i harp on don't i...sorry guys..



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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi Tony,


No problems at my end about being blunt.


You raised an interesting point about the mobile school setting up at an airfield an poaching business from other operators. I was told by the former owner that the operation must never operate at an airfield where an operating school exists which is how it should be. On reflection, it may have been a way to avoid scrutiny of the MFTF by other, more dedicated operators!!


I was intensely 'annoyed' at the non support given by the AUF/RAAus senior management at the time and that they stated that I would apply the same lack of standards as the previous operator - that hurt with no comeback and then a public admonishment in the magazine a while back when I tried to bring this out into the open. Any positive steps to opening mobile facilities would get my vote and many people in the more remote areas of this great land.


I think that this concept is completely lost on the RAAus management as they are currently hell bent on chasing GA operations to increase the membership, not apparently encouraging current non flyers to take to the air.


Still, I would like to remain positive and hope that the concept 'takes off'. Any one flying near Roma is welcome to drop in and stay a while. Cold beer in the fridge!


Bill Bendall



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Guest TOSGcentral

I have not got a clue what the "Go" is Motz, but I have a damn good idea of how it is panning out in practical terms - because I am dealing with the results!


I want to take a point up on Bill's post - that I know he is aware of, but just did not write.


A mobile FTF inland is not simply about recruiting new members. It is far more about (sure) sensible basic training but far more on an RAAus presence being felt around the traps! A facility to talk to responsible people, get a check, get an endorsement - just get sensible advice on paths to becoming a better pilot and airman.


What we have had is "get your pilot certificate and off you go - it is all written down - your responsibility now" That simply is not good enough when people are prepared to fill that gap, at no other expense to the membership, and they are shafted by RAAus senior management on what appears to be no more than a whim or personal viewpoint!


Time to take the gloves off perhaps? Bill - the ball really is in your court as you bought the damn thing (mobile FTF).


Address an enquiry to the President on why you have been denied and send cc's to all Board Members asking their personal views and requesting their support.


Publish your response here and the members may be able to help if need be. Or if you do not get a response!







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That sounds like a good plan.. I was thinking mabye a flyin... i see Bill is in Roma, mabye if a few members got together out there to discuss how we can help get it going?? and invite some RAA reps to explain there position...but im afraid that judging by the response ( or lack of) to this thread not many blokes would be to interested in getting this grass rootes nessecity up and running... grrrlll... comon you blokes, Lets get behind this guy and give him some support, even a post with your views on the subject, put yourself in the position of the rural guy wanting to get into flying or stay current... most of us have it pretty easy with our schools just minutes away and probably a handfull of senior memvers within earshot for encouragemnet and advice...Im a little dissapointed with members at the moment, we aren't the GA, RAA isn't casa, its by the members for the members i thought, but without members support it'll never go anywhere..


im currently writing a letter tto the powers that be in the RAA to see what i can find out..



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Perhaps I should bring you up to date on my position and attitude toward the MFTF.


I would support any attempt to get MFTF's going but I personally have moved on and will never operate one, at least in the near future as I am committed to earning an income from other sources and fly purely for recreation these days. I copped a pretty hard hit from the mongrel that sold the school to me but then I was kicked in the groin by the very organisation that sanctioned it in the first place.


It is very difficult to get kicked in the groin and then get up and smile at the bloke that did it to you!!


Tony makes a very valid point in that a remote operation gives an organisational presence in an otherwise unrepresented area. I do not give much respect to the RAAus these days so it would be difficult to represent them. Instructing is one of the greatest joys that you can experience and it is a great shame that many people in the remote areas will miss out on quality flying training because of some beef in Canberra.


I will consider writing to them but I have to shake the venom out of my pen first!!


Sorry if I have offended anyone, it is just my feelings on the matter.



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I can understand fully your position Bill.. I would be pretty Pi$$ed off if it were me mate.. I tried to spark some interest on this forum but to no evail.. Evryones got there licence or are already in training, so why give a hoot about the poor blokes out in the bush or less populated areas.. awell, what can ya do? Ya can't force people to care about others can ya.. The RAA gets more and more like CASA evrytime i turn my head..Poor form fullas...



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Thanks for the comments and support Moz!


I reckon that the big problem with the RAAus is that they are chasing easy membership numbers so as they can go to CASA and say 'look at all the people that we manage so gives all the single engine aircraft on the register'.


In pure economical terms, it is easy to get a GA school converted to run a recreational sshool as part of their operation. GA training is expensive so the savvy schools start their students off with a RAAus certificate and then convert them over to a GA license - Simple commercial sustainability! It is easy to do an annual inspection on these schools as they are close to the major coastal regions, lots of syudents, public transport, pie shops and whatever.


Imagine trying to do an annual inspection on an MFTF. The thing could be located at Cameron's corner or lake Eyre so it would be expensive, inconvenient, difficult, bring your own swag......... so why would they even bother to give their blessing to it. The last operator went out his way to be in a difficult location so he was never inspected and we ended up with the result that you experienced first hand. (Your handling of that situation was quite professional in my opinion by the way.)


Where the RAAus went wrong was saying that any operator of an MFTF would apply the same standards as the other operator and that is just plain straight out Bull Twang!


Anyway, enough of my ramblings, it is a beautiful day outside and the Drifter is on the wrong side of the hanger door!!



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What is all this about remote or less populated areas. Gladstone Qld has a population of around 30000 in the area and doesn't have an RAAus or GA training organisation.


What is needed is a push for people to start flying, and in this area it falls on deaf ears. There are too many other things, such as boating and fishing, but it is pain not having a local CFI and a visiting one would be welcome.



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Yea, i lived at Biloela for a few years and couldn't believe that thangool was the only place for AUF training in those days, and that was with the formentioned "problem child".. I think MILES has a school out near dalulu somewhere...not sure... Mabye we need to organise a flyin at Gladstone hey??hehe..spark some interest...its quite a nice strip there, just have to dodge the RPT acft..lol



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Interesting point Ian as I did not realise that a school does not operate in that area.


The old MFTF used to do a lot of work at Airlie Beach and surrounds. For interest, there was a Thruster operating with 'Beach Patrol' painted on the sides but had nothing to do with patrolling beaches. It was just so as people would not put the operator in for low flying along the coast....... you've got to be cunning to be a rogue!!



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Guest TOSGcentral

Hmmm! Bill – that may be a lost opportunity that we may never get again, one that you can only really help with, and I am NOT attempting to stir up trouble for the sake of “Having a go at RAAusâ€Â.


In the cold light of day you physically own the only MFTF there has been and I am stating my belief that the right to operate that facility was wrongfully withheld from you!


As I have said before – you only have to write to the President and request why your authority to operate was withheld. Canvass the other Board Members as well.


That should resolve the issue. If no good reason is given then we can look at other alternatives to get a satisfactory explanation. I doubt that the situation would go that far.


At the very least you will get a saleable commodity as you have the hardware and previous approval. If you do not do this then the situation could be used as a precedent to block any further applications on the basis of “we do not allow MFTFsâ€Â. The real losers there are the country members and they deserve better from their own movement!







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