100 Tales of Flight Book Giveaway

Owen Zupp - Monday, April 06, 2015
50 Tales of Flight by Owen Zupp



To celebrate the second anniversary of '50 Tales of Flight', The Pilot's Blog is giving away the pair of titles in this series in paperback to 5 lucky readers.


Simply, sign up below for your free '5 Tales of Flight' or subscribe to 'The Pilot's Blog' before April 10th and you could  be reading 100 more tales of flight in print.


 Register by CLICKING HERE....


 Good Luck!

The lucky 5 will be announced here at The Pilot's Blog and contacted via email for their postal address.



Germanwings 4U9525. One Pilot's Perspective at The Pilot's Blog

Owen Zupp - Monday, April 06, 2015


  Image: www.telegraph.co.uk

The tragic events of this week are still resonating around the world. The loss of the Germanwings Airbus A320 appears to have resulted from the actions of a lone, rogue pilot. Such an event has occurred before in aviation’s history, but it is an extremely rare occurrence and air travel remains extremely safe. That being said, statistics don’t relieve the anguish but perhaps they offer some balance and perspective at this dreadful time when calm heads are called for..........

.......Read the full story by CLICKING HERE for 'The Pilot's Blog'

The Final Flight of VH-OJA.

Owen Zupp - Sunday, March 08, 2015
QANTAS VH-OJA The Pilot's Blog

The final flight of QANTAS Boeing 747-400, VH-OJA. For more details and images visit 'The Pilot's Blog'

The Pilot's Blog of Aviation has taken off!

Owen Zupp - Thursday, July 17, 2014
The Pilot's Blog has taken off!

Hi All,

Thanks for your support over recent years.

It has become so strong that I have decided to launch a new pilot's blog dedicated to a range of aviation topics.

If you're learning to fly, yearning to fly, or just want to brush up on the basics. Whether you're a reluctant passenger, or would like to know more from the world of aviation, please hop across to 'The Pilot's Blog'.

It is the friendly aviation blog with something for everybody.



50 More Tales of Flight

Owen Zupp - Friday, June 27, 2014
50 More Tales of Flight!

Following the success of '50 Tales of Flight', I have released '50 More Tales of Flight'.

Airbus A350 XWB in formation with Rafale fighter.

Owen Zupp - Friday, June 27, 2014
Airbus A350 XWB in formation with Rafale fighter.

A shot that I recently took of a Rafale fighter from an Airbus A350 XWB.

Check out '50 More Tales of Flight' HERE!

Flying Wings Over Texas

Owen Zupp - Saturday, April 12, 2014
Image:Dean Muskett

Flying Wings Over Texas.

By Owen Zupp

Hi All...Just before I start today's blog, I'd like to announce that ''50 Tales of Flight' is now available in print form. For the first 7 days it is available on Amazon at only $9.99. CLICK HERE At the end of the 7 days, I'll delete this text and link...now, back to the blog.

Recently something strange was seen high over Texas. Size and speed unknown, the small delta-shaped craft was pulling a contrail in the blue skies above. Immediately the world was abuzz with speculation of a new advanced aircraft type and the true purpose behind the legendary ‘Area 51’. Was this the next step forward in aircraft design?

Such sightings are nothing new as test flying of revolutionary designs has been going on for decades. The fact that so much flying has taken place beyond prying eyes is probably a more intriguing phenomenon. Remember the clandestine night raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and the revelation of the stealth Blackhawk helicopter? Had that helicopter not crashed would we know of its existence? Even now, very little is known publicly about its true form and capabilities.

Edwards Air Force Base in California has traditionally been the home to the men and machines pushing the edge of the envelope. It was here that Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947 and saw the numerous X-Planes that flew ever higher and faster. It was home to the ‘best of the best’ from which the first astronauts were mustered. The aircraft took on all forms from the bullet-like Bell X-1 to the striking, but ill-fated, XB-70 Valkyrie.

In such a world, tragedy was no stranger. There were not the computer ‘models’ of aircraft performance that can be digitally generated in the modern age. The limits could only be found by flying the test aircraft ever-closer to the edge until it bent, broke or hopefully survived. The street names at Edwards are silent testimony to those that lost their lives in pursuit of the sky’s unknown boundaries.

The YB-49 'Flying Wing'.

The base itself is named after Captain Glen Edwards. A veteran of World War Two, he became a test pilot only to lose his life away from the battle-front in post-war America. He was testing the Northrop YB-49 ‘Flying Wing’ when it broke up in flight, killing all on board. Developed from a piston-engined counterpart, the YB-49 was pushed along by 8 jet engines. Still, the concept of the tailless aircraft had been around for a good many years and a good many nations.

One forerunner to the YB-49 had been a one-third scale, 60-foot span flying wing. Designated the N-9M, it was also from Jack Northrop’s, although this smaller, single-seat version was powered by two piston engines. An example of the type still flies at Chino, California and its canary yellow form in flight is something to behold.

Northrop N-9M. Image: Planes of Fame.

And while the YB-49 faded into history with only a handful ever being built, the concept was far from forgotten. The flying wing’s tailless low profile form lent itself to the new world of stealth technology that was emerging in the 1980s. The ability to successfully strike a target was no longer simply a function of speed and/or altitude in a world of increasingly sophisticated weapons and defence systems. Evading detection became the new priority to reintroduce the element of surprise in a world of radar and to protect the valuable ‘asset’ and its crew.

The new age also brought new control systems that could counter some of the concerns relating to the YB-49 and the ‘Flying Wing’ grew into the aircraft we now know as the B-2 ‘Spirit’ stealth bomber. Developed over a decade, secrecy had once again been a key element in the B-2 program. The B-2 employed a number of new technologies beyond its low radar profile, ranging from suppressed engine exhausts to a range of lightweight, stealthy materials.

Contrails Over Texas. Image: Steve Douglass

Now we have the ‘mystery’ aircraft sighted over Texas. Suspicions are that the aircraft is manned and that it was in company with two other aircraft. Other than that, nothing is really known of the type. Given the extensive security measures that surrounded the B-2 development in the 1980s, there is nothing to suggest that this new aircraft hasn’t also stayed beneath the public ‘radar’. What it does demonstrate clearly is that the pursuit of new technologies marches on.

Certainly the computer aided development of new designs has increased in great measures, but still there is the need for the ‘real thing’ to be flown. Consequently, when the slide rules are laid down, someone still needs to strap into the secretive cockpits and take these aircraft into the skies. It is the only way to truly ratify the projected performance and discover the quirks that were not anticipated in the computer model. When this happens, a pilot is still needed to observe and counter the variation away from the forecast flight profile.

A good deal more is now known about both aircraft design and the environment that aircraft operate in. The ‘sound barrier’ is no longer a wall in the air where good aeroplanes go to die; crushed by mysterious forces. Better informed, the battle is now to be smarter and stealthier and generally within the predefined limits that were discovered with the blood and sweat of test pilots from the 1940s onwards. Still, whenever there is an unknown, there is a risk and test flying will never be a ‘simple’ process.

I suspect in time we will learn of the aircraft over Amarillo, Texas. It will grow from secrecy, to ‘Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft’ and ultimately appear on the air show circuit, though not any time soon. And even when that occurs it will still hold a good number of secrets close to its chest. For the moment, the triangular speck and its contrail will remain a mystery, although it is a tangible reminder that progress never ceases. In aviation, there will always be some entity looking for a new edge and taking the limits just that bit further. The spirit of Captain Glen Edwards and his comrades lives on.

Fly safe.

Goodbye Mum.

Owen Zupp - Thursday, March 27, 2014

Goodbye Mum.

By Owen Zupp

The end was as peaceful as you could imagine. After ninety years on this earth her time had come and she seemed content to go. As she would say, “To reunite with those that had gone before”. And she had seen her share of loss.

Raised to a rural backdrop of green paddocks and livestock, she was of a generation whose youth was torn apart by war. As soon as they could shave, her school friends became soldiers, sailors and aircrew, fighting in conflicts across the globe. Yet she would often reflect in later years how they were much simpler times.

Those simpler times took the life of her first love in a bomber over a target in Germany. Then her fiancé perished in flames, crashing into the jungles of New Guinea only weeks before her wedding day. That April, instead of walking down the aisle, she stood in the rain at the war memorial with tears running down her face.

She too had served in World War Two as an air force radar operator; one of the ‘Hush Hush’ girls. She had also worked beneath the streets of Sydney in a plotting room. She was on the first course of peace-time females in the air force, or  'WRAAFs'. It was then that she met another RAAF pilot, on his way to Korea, but this time her luck held and he returned intact.

Together they raised three children and as I sat holding Mum’s hand that last time, that was the most memorable of her achievements. She wasn’t on committees and never pursued hobbies to any degree, she dedicated her life to us; her kids. As a child I recall her tucking me in with her customary, “Sleep Tight”. Holding my hand as we’d walk to school and working as a volunteer in the library. Cooking pikelets for church stalls and washing football uniforms for our local club. Standing on sidelines, or sitting in audiences, she never missed a significant event in our lives. When I was older and training each morning at 5am, Mum had already risen and sent me on my way.

Even as adults, her children were the focus of her attention and the source of her pride. And at times, her frustration I suspect. Regardless of the situation, she was always there. In fact, as I reflect upon my Mum, she was the greatest constant my life has known. She has quite literally always been there. Often in the background, but she was there.

And when her children had children, the cycle of love and pride started once more. As she makes her final journey I cannot help but feel a deep sense of loss, not sadness, but loss. Like one of the pillars upon which a house was built has now been taken away. The house will continue to stand, but it is a little weakened and even a little rocky until the foundations settle once again.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty was looking into my children’s eyes and telling them that Nanna had gone. Later I found my eldest daughter quietly reading one of Nanna’s many letters. Down the hall her sister had glued a photo to the wall with a poem she had written, “Nanna You Will Always Be in my Heart”. Then as I sat down for dinner, my third daughter had made a placemat that simply stated “Bye Nanna” and was adorned with a million stars.

Their beautiful acts were the only time the toughened constitution of this former paramedic was challenged. Even in their loss, their young thoughts were of hope and of the Nanna they had loved. Death had taken my mother’s body, but her love was alive in my children as strong as it had ever been. Knowing what I know, I should never have been surprised by this

Goodbye Mum.

Sleep tight.


Pearl Harbor Skies

Owen Zupp - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Pearl Harbor Skies.

By Owen Zupp

Parachute on and strapped in low and tight. The World War Two vintage T-6 is set to take to the skies and so am I. Everything about the aircraft around me breathes an air of safe passage and security, from the girder-like framework that envelopes me to the sizeable North American rudder pedals ahead.

As the throttle is smoothly opened the radial engine lets out a throaty roar and the two propeller blades blur into a single disc. Soon the tail rises and before me lies the black strip of runway and the historic setting of Pearl Harbour. The wheels now leave the ground, the toe brakes are touched and the landing gear folds up cosily into the wings. We are underway.

A wartime hangar passes beneath as we roll left and set course to the north with the famous harbour out to my right. I am flying past places that had been carved into my brain through teachings, textbooks and the occasional Hollywood blockbuster. Places that had burned on the "day of infamy"; December 7th 1941. The day when the Japanese had struck at the heart of the United States Navy and set in motion the Pacific War.

Wheeler Field where the P-40 Warhawks had been ablaze and lesser known coral runways now reclaimed by the vegetation. Runways where a valiant few had launched to battle the might of the Japanese as they made their two waves of attacks on the island of Oahu. The site of the radar station that had first detected the inbound armada of the skies and the beach where a midget submarine had been dragged on shore.

One by one the historic waypoints slide beneath the canary yellow wings of the T-6, set to a backdrop of pristine waters, lush green valleys and jutting igneous ridge lines born of a volcanic past. Such a setting seems to be so at odds with the devastation that took place that December morning over 70 years ago.

Still, as I sit beneath the greenhouse-style canopy with the barest of instrumentation in front of me there is a sense of that time. As I wheel to the left and right I am struck by the reality that these were the same parcels of space through which the Japanese fighters and bombers had passed enroute to their targets.

We slip between two jagged peaks to emerge with Waikiki to the distance on our left and Pearl Harbour straight ahead. Ford Island with its orange and white striped control tower looms large as does the massive battleship Missouri at anchor and watching over the sunken USS Arizona. The Arizona with its more than 1,000 souls still at rest beneath the waves.

I am struck by a mix of solemnity for those lost lives and awareness of how chaotic the skies must have been on that day. For the sky over Pearl Harbour is a relatively small patch of air, yet it must have been brimming with the swirling mass of attacking aircraft. In my mind's eye I can see the USS Nevada making its failed dash for the open seas and almost smell the rising funnels of black smoke. The noise must have been deafening on land, sea and in the air.

But in the present the skies are clear and blue and the only sound is the rhythmic, reliable hum of the T-6's engine. There is hardly a ripple in the air and the magic of flight is at its very best. The here-and-now is in conflict with the history, however the outline of the USS Arizona can still be seen as I pass overhead and prevents any chance of being solely lost in the moment. Nor should I, as this is a site of solemn significance.

The wheels touch down once more and the blurred disc again becomes two stationary propeller blades. I slide the canopy back, with my harness and headset still in place. Leaning my head back all I can see is the blue sky, bordered by the framework of the 1940s cockpit. That same piece of sky, but in such a very different time.

Fly safe.

When a Pilot Takes his Life...

Owen Zupp - Friday, March 14, 2014

When a Pilot Takes his Life...

By Owen Zupp

It’s kind of numbing. A news story about a familiar face for all of the wrong reasons. The mind flicks back to other times when that face wasn’t frozen in a photograph, but laughing at some borderline joke in happier times. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that a fellow pilot has taken their own life.

When my old airline failed, two faces that I’d shared a flight deck with did not survive to build their career or a new life. For reasons known unto only them, a sad and lonely end was the only option that they perceived to be left on the table. Still my memory is of one leaning out of the window of a 737 waving merrily at his family in the terminal. The other is doing an incredibly good impersonation of a lead singer from a renowned rock band. That is how they will stay with me forever.

Yet for all their inner conflict, these pilots remained absolutely focused when they flew. Perhaps that is one of the qualities of a 'good pilot'; the ability to attend to the task at hand despite any other pressures that might exist. I saw this same quality in my time as a paramedic and unfortunately a number of those magnificent people could not find a way forward either. It is an admirable professional quality, but at a high cost to some individuals.

Pilots are task-focused and derive satisfaction from completion and progression. When the spectre of a failing airline or a stalled career raises its head it flies in the face of everything that has been striven for. Still, the matter is much more complex and beyond the grasp of someone like me. From where I sat, my mates had other issues to contend with outside of the workplace and I’ve always thought that the airline’s collapse was a possible contributor rather than an outright cause.

Unfortunately there are no non-normal checklists for life’s adversity. That very quality that strives for a sense of command and focus on the flight deck doesn’t necessarily translate into everyday life. That is not a failing; it’s just the human condition. If that battle gets tough, PLEASE reach out to somebody and let them know; someone who may be able to offer support and another perspective. Please.

My memories will always be of my friends in happier times, but I wish with all of my heart that they weren’t just memories.

Rest in Peace Andrew. Clear skies mate.

For help, contact....
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