My dream is clear
I read an article this week that made the point that if Martin Luther King had said, “I have a Plan” rather than “I have a Dream” history would have remembered him differently, if in fact it remembered him at all.
I think it is important to define what it is that we are trying to achieve with gliding in 2016 and 2017.
I look forward to gliding in Australia being recognised around the world for our initiatives to empower our members. For our influence to persuade the regulator to change legislation to meet our needs, for our initiatives to wrest maintenance of our tugs from the regulator, and for the high standard of our documentation.
I look forward to members doing the right thing, confident that they are safe from prosecution if they make an honest mistake.
I look forward to members taking responsibility for their actions, understanding that Pilot in Command means just that.
I look forward to a club environment that is built on trust, teamwork and common goals rather than guilt and point counting, measuring how much work each person does.
I look forward to gliding clubs where women pilots fly on equal terms with male pilots and all GFA members are not referred to by gender but are simply know as pilots.
I look forward to an aviation community that increasingly recognises the value of the stick and rudder training as a sound basis for all forms of aviation careers both civil and military.
I look forward to a regulatory environment under Part 149 where we can become fair and effective co-regulators.
Those of us who fly gliders know how special gliding is. If we didn’t want to break the mould we would be flying GA at our local aero club. We all want to do something that is a little bit different, to enjoy the freedom that gliding allows us.
As glider pilots in Australia we have freedoms that not many aviators enjoy. We can fly without a radio, we can fly in controlled airspace, we can maintain our own aircraft and we can write our own rules.
In recent weeks we have been sending out Club Health Checks to all clubs to help club committees understand what their members are thinking and how they can better meet their needs.
Anecdotally, we know that some clubs do really well because one person is driving change, and I have come to realise that the change that they are driving is a cultural change, not a physical change. It is not that the club has more hangars or more gliders. It is built on their belief that their club can become a great club and they bring the members along with them on that journey.
I now realise that if we simply asked, “Does your club committee have a Dream or does it have a Plan?” we would immediately identify successful clubs.
We have dozens of amazing people at clubs all around the country who lead their members with enthusiasm, energy and a clear vision of where they are going. We see that successful clubs are growing because these individuals have the leadership and vision to inspire their members to be the best that they can be. We can all learn from that. We must have a Dream and not a Plan.
We have Club Presidents who take ice in an esky to the launch point every weekend so the students have cold drinks, we have instructors who turn up every weekend before the students to prepare gliders for flight. These people are the heroes of our sport, they put heart and soul into what they do and it pays enormous dividends.
I know that not everyone shares this view. When I was visiting a club in Western Australia a pilot pulled up in his motorised 18m glider and, chatting with me as we walked back to fetch his car he said, “You want us to have more members and more students. What’s in it for me? I just want to go flying!” We have to accept that a number of our members fall into that category. They are not interested in growing or promoting the sport and that is their choice to make. We need to make room for everyone, but that does not mean that we cannot recognise the incredible work that is done all around Australia so that the rest of us can go flying every weekend in safety, enjoying the freedoms that we have. These people who are passionate about gliding, these people who have a dream about gliding - they need our support. They need us to tell them, “Yes, we agree.” Even if we are not able to help them directly, we must let them know that they are on the right track, that we agree with them and that we support them. We must give them fuel to continue the journey.
We must never forget the grassroots on which we are all standing.
What is your dream?