Veteran aviation journalist Ben Sandilands has died after battling cancer.
For the past decade, Sandilands covered aviation for the Crikey online blog Plane Talking, with his combination of analysis, comment and news often provoking much comment from readers.
Even Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was prompted to respond to one of Sandilands’ posts in June 2011.
Previously, Sandilands covered aviation at Fairfax Media’s The Australian Financial Review and The Sydney Morning Herald mastheads through a period where Australian Airlines and Qantas became one, Ansett folded, Virgin Blue emerged and then morphed into Virgin Australia, as well as the arrival on the local scene of low-cost carriers in the form of Jetstar and Tigerair Australia.
This body of work over the close to 60 years was recognised with a lifetime achievement award in 2015 from the National Aviation Press Club.
Aviation journalists and industry figures took to Twitter to pay tribute to their colleague, particularly Sandilands’ deep knowledge of the industry gained from his decades on the beat.
Long-time aviation editor at The Australian and now editor/Asia Pacific bureau chief for Airline Ratings Steve Creedy said Sandilands was a larger-than-life colleague whose sharp observations and passion for aviation would be sorely missed.
Vale Ben Sandilands, our larger than life colleague whose sharp observations and passion for aviation will be sorely missed. pic.twitter.com/dQ1NgSY7XA
— Stephen Creedy (@StephenCreedy) October 28, 2017
Reuters Asia aviation and defence correspondent Jamie Freed, who previously covered aviation for Fairfax Media in Australia, said Sandilands was an “industry legend”.
Ben was such a kind person and fountain of knowledge. An industry legend in Australia who touched many beyond its shores as well. https://t.co/q5cCOFetJa
— Jamie Freed (@Jamie_Freed) October 28, 2017
Qantas pilot Captain Richard de Crespigny expressed similar sentiments.
Farewell Ben Sandilands @PlaneTalking, a legendary aviation journalist and friend. Aviation and I will miss you. Thanks and RIP.
— Richard de Crespigny (@RichardDeCrep) October 29, 2017
And Australian Business Traveller recognised Ben as “immensely knowledgeable and deeply passionate”.
— AusBusinessTraveller (@AusBT) October 28, 2017
But Australian Aviation contributor John Walton perhaps put it best:
How fortunate we truly are to have known Ben and have read his work. https://t.co/YU1uDIcGoA
— John Walton (@thatjohn) October 30, 2017
Australian Aviation sends its deepest condolences to the Sandilands family.