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.
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.