Macarthur Job, or Mac as he was more widely known, was a Flying Doctor pilot, an air safety consultant and an aviation writer who received national and international recognition for his contribution to aviation and, in particular, air safety. His passion for aviation spanned more than six decades.
Born at Taree in New South Wales on 10 April 1926, Macarthur Job learnt to fly in open cockpit Tiger Moth biplanes in the years immediately following World War II. In the early 1950s, he began his professional career as a Flying Doctor pilot in South Australia, where he flew DH-84 Dragon, Percival Proctor and Lockheed 12A aircraft.
In 1955, he married Esma Page who he met while working with the Flying Doctors. Esma was the service’s pharmacist.
By the early 1960s, he was operating the charter and aerial work business, South-Eastern Air Transport Pty Ltd.
In 1964, Job was appointed to the Air Safety Investigation branch of the former Australia Department of Civil aviation and was promoted to a Senior Inspector role three years later.
It was during this period that he began editing the Department’s principal pilot safety education publication, the Aviation Safety Digest. Over that time, the Digest won a coveted award, named as the US-based international Flight Safety Foundation’s Publication of the Year.
In the 14 years he worked at the Department, Job assessed hundreds of air accident investigations involving both Australian and overseas-registered aircraft.
In 1978, took up a position on the editorial staff of the Australian aviation industry journal Aircraft, published by The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd in Melbourne, and was later appointed as its Managing Editor. He also edited the Sport Aircraft Association’s magazine Airsport.
During the mid-1980s, Job became a working Director with the Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF). The non-profit organisation has aircraft involved in community development work in outback Australia and Papua New Guinea.
Job became a full time independent aviation writer in 1988, specialising in air safety and air accident analysis, and an air safety consultant. He had articles published in aviation journals and newspapers both at home and abroad and was a consultant for the television series Black Box. Produced in the United Kingdom between 1996 and 1998, the series of six, one-hour episodes primarily concentrated on commercial aviation accidents and the investigations related to them.
Job also published nine books focusing on air safety and accident themes, including: Air Crash, Vols 1 and 2; The Old and the Bold; and Air Disaster, Vols 1, 2, 3 and 4. The latter volumes are still used as pilot training texts by some domestic and international airlines.
He also wrote the book, Disaster in the Dandenongs, published in 2008 on the 70th anniversary of the crash of the DC-2 airliner, Kyeema, on Mt Dandenong, Victoria, which killed all 18 on board instantly.
His last book was Into Oblivion – the Southern Cloud Enigma (2010), which looked at Australia’s first major airline accident. The Australian National Airways Avro 618 Ten and all eight on board disappeared on a flight from Sydney to Melbourne on 21 March 1931. The aircraft’s fate remained a mystery until 1958 when it was discovered in mountainous terrain by a worker on the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
In 2001, a legal firm in Singapore retained him as an expert witness in litigation against a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, SilkAir, in relation to the loss of Flight MI 185 – a Boeing 737, which crashed into the Musi River near Palembang in southern Sumatra on 19 December 1997.
Over his lifetime, Job received national and international recognition for his contributions. As a member of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators, he was granted Freedom of the City of London in 1981.
At the Australian International Airshow in 1997, he received the Aviation Safety Foundation’s award for Aviation Safety Excellence in the ground support category and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia’s (AOPA) Bill Adams Trophy for “the most outstanding contribution to aviation by an AOPA member”.
He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2003 Queen’s Birthday Honours for “services to the promotion and advancement of aviation safety”.
Other awards included a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from the National Aviation Press Club (NAPC) in 2007. The award citation described Job as one of the quiet achievers in journalism and a person who had dedicated his considerable writing and flying skills to furthering the cause of air safety. It also noted that: “Mac’s ability to analyse and dissect accidents in language that pilots understand is a great gift”.
In his later years, Job enjoyed flying vintage aeroplanes at air shows and fly-ins, including the DH.89 Dragon Rapide, the DH.84 Dragon, the Miles Falcon, the DH.85 Leopard Moth, and the DH.82 Tiger Moth.
He was also involved in the Scout Association’s Air Activities Centre at Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne, providing air experience for Scouts to qualify them for their Air Activities Badge.
He held a pilot licence until his death on 6 August 2014 in Melbourne. He is survived by his wife Esma and their five children.