Aviation journalist Ben Sandilands passes

Ben Sandilands

Oct. 31, 2017: Ben Sandilands, the cranky, crusty curmudgeonly writer of Australia’s Plane Talking (Crikey), died Friday after a long illness. He was 73. Cancer was the cause of death.

We only met Sandilands on a couple of occasions but avidly followed his blog for years.

He was controversial in Australia. Sandilands was a long-time critic of the Australian Transportation Safety Board and of Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Airways. His persistent criticism won him no friends in officialdom.

But having writing aviation for 60 years, Sandilands had sources through Australian aviation and often wrote penetrating pieces about whatever topic he happened to be pursuing at the time.

MH370 and more

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 captured his special interest. He often linked studies other than the official ones that appeared well-grounded in expertise and dismissively thumbed his proverbial nose at the looney theories.

Sandilands’ interests strayed well beyond Australia. He’d regularly comment on other topics that had little direct connection to Australia: the Bombardier CSeries-Boeing trade complaint; Middle Eastern airlines; Airbus in Europe; Boeing in the US; even Uber recently caught his attention.

Space, volcanoes, solar power, the space probe Cassini—they all made it onto Plane Talking, and he made them all relevant.

It’s always sad when we lose one of our own, and in this case, Sandilands was an institution–an institution that won’t be replaced.

8 Comments on “Aviation journalist Ben Sandilands passes

  1. It is very kind of you to mention Ben’s passing.

    Ben was a classic Australian of a sort less commonly found these days. His unhesitating willingness to call a spade a spade sometimes gave him challenges, and it is a great shame he never published the books he sometimes mused about.

    His MH370 coverage was excellent, and provided a focus point for both people with relevant material to share and for people seeking sensible good and broad coverage. What a shame he won’t now get to see the final ultimate resolution of this mystery (assuming there to be one).

    Who will fill his shoes? Who possibly could, or would? We are all diminished by his passing.

  2. Ben Sandilands just wrote about what he thought was important and made a good story. There was no side to his writing nor did he serve any vested interests. He was a superb journalist beyond being an aviation expert.

  3. Thank you guys for posting this.

    I followed Ben forever and mostly completely agreed with his line of thought.

    We lost a good one.

  4. So sad. He will not be easily replaced. No one in the area came near him. We knew his time was short but he wrote on anyway.

    Sadly missed

  5. There is a reference by people who talk about Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.

    That generation had a lot of those Giants.

    Ben in his area was one of them.

    I often disagreed with his assessments, but I never questioned his integrity or his honesty.

    He was the Gold Standard of what a Journalist should be about, he did not buy the stories, he looked behind the scenes, he dug out painful truths that the powers that be want to see covered up.

    He will be missed by a great many, and that says volumes about what he was and stood for.

    We can honor him by doing our best in our lives and work.

    We may not match him one on one, but we can carry forward what he stood for one by one and ensure what he was and stood for is not forgotten.

  6. I always loved Ben’s articles, especially on both MH losses, he asked questions nobody else seemed to want ask.

  7. PLEASE can we just day DIED instead of passed (passed gas, passed out, etc. OK). It’s such an awful euphemism for an inevitable part of life and an attempt to pour some kind of perfume on something that happens to everybody.

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