Macarthur Job 1926–2014
Pilot, author and Flight Safety Australia contributor Macarthur Job, OAM, died yesterday, 6 August, after a short illness. He was 88.
George Macarthur Job was born in Taree, NSW, on 10 April 1926. Almost immediately he became known as ‘Mac’, to avoid confusion with his father. Another early development was a strong interest in aviation and he spent two years in the wartime Air Training Corps; but on joining the RAAF in late 1944, he was bitterly disappointed to be rejected for aircrew because of a slight colour vision defect. Instead, he was trained in radio maintenance. The war ended during the final weeks of his course but posted to a variety of locations within Australia, he remained in the Air Force until March 1947.
On discharge he took various civil jobs, but the lure of flying was still great and, after convincing DCA his colour vision was ‘safe’ after all, he trained on Tiger Moths with the Royal Aero Club of New South Wales for his commercial pilot licence.
He began working in civil aviation in March 1954, flying a De Havilland DH84 Dragon and Percival Proctor III, from a base in Ceduna, SA. Later he flew a Lockheed 12A, with the Anglican Bush Church Aid Society, and was in charge of Flying Doctor operations in outback South Australia.
In September 1958 he began a charter service based at Merimbula’s newly opened airport, in southern NSW. This business developed into a fish-spotting operation for the Eden-based tuna fleet as well as for vessels working in South Australian waters from Port Lincoln.
In June 1964, he was appointed to the Department of Civil Aviation’s Air Safety Investigation Branch in Melbourne to become the first full-time editor of its safety promotion publication, Aviation Safety Digest. For 14 years he edited (and wrote much of) issues 36 to 100. From 1967, this editorial role was in conjunction with one as the department’s senior inspector of air safety.
Job sought to establish a rapport with his readership by talking to them as fellow pilots in their own language—letting the accidents the Digest reviewed tell their own story, rather than merely lecturing. Under his editorship the Digest received the prestigious US Flight Safety Foundation’s ‘Publication of the Year’ award in 1972.
His memories of editorship were more down-to-earth. ‘I always found the bouquets were few and far between compared to the brickbats. But I did enjoy it, in a masochistic sort of way. It was always a joy to get each issue out,’ he told Flight Safety Australia in 2010.
In 1978, Job left the Department to join the editorial staff of the aviation industry journal Aircraft. Six years later he was appointed a director of the Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF)—a professional, non-profit organisation which operated more than 40 aircraft in community development work in Papua New Guinea and outback Australia. In 1988 he became a freelance aviation writer and consultant, specialising in air safety and accident analysis.
His works, beginning with Air Crash (1991) quickly gained a reputation for accuracy and cogent analysis among the cognoscenti of aviation. He wrote for Aeroplane (UK), Flying (US), Airways, Australian Aviation, Aero Australia and Flight Safety Australia. He also covered aviation in Time magazine, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Sun Herald newspapers. In 1997 he was a consultant for what became the first in an entire genre of TV programs devoted to aviation accidents, The Black Box. In that same year he was presented with the Aviation Safety Foundation of Australia’s Aviation Safety Award and the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association’s Bill Adams Trophy.
In the 2003 Queen’s Birthday honours he was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) ‘for services to the promotion of aviation safety’.
Macarthur Job remained physically and mentally active until the end of his life. A retrospective on his time as editor of Aviation Safety Digest was described as ‘an afternoon of analysis, not reminiscence,’ by his successors at Flight Safety Australia. Although he had retired from flying, he still drove a car, and until very recently, occasionally rode his bicycle.
He is survived by his wife, Esma, whom he married in1955, and five children.