Macarthur (‘Mac’) Job
has spent nearly all his adult life in the aviation industry.
He learnt to fly in the early post WW2 war years in open cockpit Tiger Moth biplanes and began his professional aviation career in the early 1950s as a flying doctor pilot in the South Australian outback. Here he flew DH-84 Dragon, Percival Proctor and Lockheed 12A aircraft.
In 1955, the service’s pharmacist, Esma Page, PhC, became his wife.
Later a charter and aerial work operator in country New South Wales, trading as South-Eastern Air Transport Pty Ltd, he was appointed to the Air Safety Investigation Branch of the former Australian Department of Civil Aviation in 1964. Three years later he was promoted to the position of a Senior Inspector of Air Safety. He edited the Department of Civil Aviation’s principal pilot safety education publication, Aviation Safety Digest (affectionately dubbed the ‘Crash Comic’ by pilots generally) for 14 years – a period which saw the Digest win the US-based international Flight Safety Foundation’s coveted ‘Publication of the Year’ award. In the course of his years with the Department, he assessed literally hundreds of air accident investigations to both Australian and overseas-registered aircraft.
In 1978 he left the Department to join the editorial staff of the authoritative Australian aviation industry journal Aircraft, (established in 1918 and second only to Britain’s Flight International in years of publication), published by The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd in Melbourne. He also edited the Sport Aircraft Association’s magazine Airsport.
Six years later, the latter four of which were spent as Managing Editor of Aircraft, he was appointed a working Director of the Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) — a professional, non-profit organisation which operates more than 40 aircraft in community development work in Papua New Guinea and outback Australia. In 1988 he left this work to become a full time independent aviation writer specialising in air safety and air accident analysis, and an air safety consultant.
Since that time he has written prolifically on the subject in aviation journals, and from time to time in newspapers, and has published nine books on air safety themes and on what the world industry has learnt over the years as a result of responsible air safety investigation. His work includes Air Crash, Vols 1 and 2 (Aerospace Publications), tracing the operational development of Australia’s airways from the period following World War I to the present day; The Old and the Bold (Iona Books), an anthology of 20 general aviation pilot experiences, pointing up some of the unpleasant surprises that aviation holds in store for the unwary, the ill-prepared, or the foolhardy; and Air Disaster, Vols 1, 2, 3 and 4 (Aerospace Publications), a comprehensive analysis of how international flying developed through repeated failure and tragedy, to become statistically safer than ‘walking down the street’. His Air Disaster series are now used by some Australian and overseas airlines as pilot training texts.
In 2008 he wrote the book, Disaster in the Dandenongs, for the 70th anniversary commemorations of the crash of the DC-2 airliner, Kyeema, on Mt Dandenong in 1938, probably the most significant civil aviation accident in Australia’s history for the far-reaching organisational changes it prompted to make Australia’s airways safer.
His most recent work, Into Oblivion – the Southern Cloud Enigma, on Australia’s first major airline accident, is his ninth book on aviation safety.
At the 1997 Australian International Air Show at Avalon, Victoria, Macarthur Job was presented with the industry’s Aviation Safety Award for ‘aviation safety excellence’ in the ground support category. He was also awarded the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Adams Trophy for 1997, presented each year for the most ‘outstanding contribution to aviation by an AOPA member’.
Macarthur Job has been a contributor on air safety topics to Australian Aviation magazine, to Flight Safety Australia, published by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Aero Australia magazine, Flightpath magazine, Britain’s Aeroplane magazine and occasionally to The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne’s Herald-Sun newspapers. He has also written for Time magazine and The Week magazine. A consultant to the International Civil Aviation University, and a member of the executive of Aviation Safety Foundation, Australia, he was retained as an adviser to the British TV production house, Darlow Smithson Productions, during their filming of the air safety TV series, Black Box, screened for the first time throughout Australia on ABC Television during March 1997.
During 2001 he was retained by a Singaporian legal firm as an Expert Witness in litigation against SilkAir, a wholly owned regional subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, concerning the loss of a Boeing 737 aircraft in Sumatra in December 1997.
A sixth-generation Australian, the British-based Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators conferred on him the Freedom of the City of London in 1981, and in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for 2003, Macarthur was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for ‘services to the promotion and advancement of aviation safety’.
He still holds a pilot licence. A particular delight in recent years has been flying well-preserved vintage aeroplanes from the 1930s at air shows and fly-ins — the DH.89 Dragon Rapide, the DH.84 Dragon, the Miles Falcon, the DH.85 Leopard Moth, and of course the well known DH.82 Tiger Moth. He was also involved in the Scout Association’s Air Activities Centre at Melbourne’s Moorabbin Airport, providing air experience for Scouts to qualify them for their Air Activities Badge.
Still suffering keenly from what his wife calls ‘The Disease They Never Get Over’, he regrets that he flys but little now – ‘no one wants to pay him for flying aeroplanes any more’, he says.
Macarthur and his wife Esma have five adult children and six grandchildren, and today live in the beautiful Dandenong Ranges, 50km east of Melbourne.