Friday, January 27, 2012

Maryborough Aero Club: Keeping an eye out for those in the sky. Maryborough Airfield, Australia

If you’re the sort of person that likes hanging out at airfields and plane spotting, then you’re the sort of person Marcus Taylor wants to hear from.

If you’ve got a keen eye for detail, that lends itself even more to what the secretary of the Maryborough Aero Club has in mind.

Following the retirement of two of the club’s four Airfield Reporting Officers, the club needs new volunteers for the rostered role.

Marcus,who is also the town’s Airfield manager, says the role of Airfield Reporting Officer basically involves ensuring that the Airfield is in safe, working order for aircraft.

Under Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) requirements, the Airfield must be inspected twice a week — a process that takes about half an hour “if you keep moving” Marcus says.

Any anomalies must be recorded and rectified.

“The reporting officer carries out two inspections a week seeking faults,” Marcus said.

“If they find any fault they fill out a form and if they find a fault that we can’t fix then it must be reported to CASA immediately.”

This, however, happens very rarely.

Marcus, a qualified pilot since 1967, says that in the 15 plus years that he himself has served as an Airfield Reporting Officer, he has never found anything that can’t be fixed.

But, hypothetically, if this ever were the situation, the reporting officer could shut down the airfield, he notes.

“Probably the most serious thing I’ve ever found is debris on the runway — a fairly large tractor towing pin to be precise which I think dropped from a ute that shouldn’t have been there,” he said.

“Something like that could get turned up by an aircraft and puncture a tyre, or, other damage it could cause would be to a propeller.”

“It was airfield debris that caused the final crash of the Concorde and the withdrawal of the Concorde from service.”

The Airfield’s two runways, its threshold lights, taxiway edge lights, runway edge lights, and wind direction indicators (wind-socks) are among the main things the reporting officers check.

“Checking that the lights are working is probably the biggest part of our reporting at this Airfield,” Marcus says.

He says those who sign on for the honorary position, which comes with free Aero Club membership, will receive three to four days training at Ararat.

“They learn how aerodromes operate, what sort of things effect aircraft safety, how to operate radios, how to turn on the pilot activated lighting.”

Those interested in the role can obtain more information from Marcus on 0427 489 274.


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