So you want to be a pilot? An Aviation Blog by Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Tuesday, December 20, 2011


So You Want to be a Pilot.....

 By Owen Zupp.


 Author of 'Solo Flight' and '50 Tales of Flight'

I recently took a young lad for a flight over our local district; just a dawdle for half an hour or so. He keenly looked down upon the earth with that bright-eyed enthusiasm that all youngsters with dreams of flight in their hearts tend to do. For me, it’s over forty years since my father shared that experience with me for the first time, although I still vividly remember the ground falling away from the Cessna’s wheel outside my window. It was liberating and to quote John Gillespie Magee’s immortal poem ‘High Flight’, I truly felt that we had “slipped the surly bonds of Earth”. The fuse had been lit and the fire was to rage inside me until my turn came to take my own aircraft aloft.

Along the way the journey would prove to be both a struggle and an adventure. There would be weeks where the wage only just covered the rent but there would be nights where the sounds of the New Guinea jungle would play an amazing tune as I hung in my hammock. There would be life in a caravan in the midst of 40 degree heat and nights where the ice was getting so thick on the wings that I was sure there was no way out. I would bury good friends who had fallen in harm’s way and bury relationships that couldn’t overcome the distance and absence. But at the end of the day, I was flying.

Aviation was much more than a career choice for me; it was more akin to facilitating a passion or feeding an addiction. I had never possessed an alternative ‘life plan’ and always figured that I’d never need one. Yet now as I contemplate aviation on another 3am drive to the airport, I question whether it is everything thing to me that it once was. Had the dream become little more than a means to an end? For so much has changed in the industry that it is almost unrecognisable when compared to that first flight in the tiny, gleaming Cessna of the 1960s.



The face of the pilot has been through many transformations over the last century. From fledgling pioneers to heroic knights of the air, the aviators were seen as keen, strong and fearless. And in those days they definitely needed to be, although a little dose of ‘crazy’ was also a useful ingredient in the mix. When the world found the post-war peace of the 1950s and the airliners began to span the globe, it was not so much heroism as glamour that now painted the picture of the pilot. Exotic foreign lands and five-star hotels were the office, while the flight deck laid at his feet views of grand diversity. And they were ‘his’ feet as the airlines were still a man’s domain. Obviously this imbalance needed to change and finally it did when it was realised that women could actually operate airliners just as efficiently as their male counterparts. But while this door opening was a change for the better, it was far from the only change.

Jet travel saw the slashing of flight times and crossing the globe slowly moved further away from its former perception of luxury travel that was more akin to a cruise liner. World travel became big business where deals across borders could be sealed with a handshake in a matter of hours, rather than days. Passengers no longer had to layover in exotic ports, but could catch connecting flights and travel through the night to be home days earlier. And while these changes offered up a variety of worthwhile options for the customer, the role of the airline pilot was beginning to change.

And change it did. No longer did the role resemble the ship’s captain surveying the world from the bridge, instead the pilot became more closely related to the hard-working truck driver. Additionally, the security needs of a fragile world meant that air-crews were faceless creatures secured away in a bullet-proof flight deck. Like a rare species of nocturnal mammal, a glimpse of them could be caught if you happened to be in just the right place at the right time. The children’s visits to the flight deck were now a thing of the past and announcements about the world passing outside the windows were replaced by in-seat entertainment and iPods.



As fuel prices rose and fiscal reality rammed home, the five-star stop-overs disappeared. Low-cost carriers emerged to place further pressure on the bottom line of an already capital intensive industry. In some quarters, pilots began to pay for their own training to effectively buy a ‘jet job’ and their wages dropped as well. Fiscal reality had arrived for aviation and its survival depended on squeezing every inch of efficiency out of the operation in what was now a highly competitive industry. Accordingly, multiple days of sight-seeing in ports became measured in hours before it was time to turn around and cross the Pacific Ocean or some great continent once more. Travel became more routine and frequent and over a far greater distance and time. Sleep became the really valuable commodity to the pilot and crews flying to Europe could routinely see their ‘body clock’ passing them in the opposite direction somewhere over Afghanistan. Days off at home would be spent re-adapting to the time-zone just before it was time to leave again. Similarly, domestic flying became a series of multi-sector days, with minimum turn-arounds at the hotel before the transport would be shuttling the crew back to the airport for another day in the saddle. Just as glamour had replaced heroism, routine and efficiency had become the pilot’s new benchmark.

It was still dark as I pulled into the airport car park to start another day in the flight levels. I spared a thought for the young lad with the gleam in his eye and a burning desire to fly. I contemplated my own career and wondered if I had foreseen the hours of study, the cost of training and the years of minimum wage and second jobs would I have been so enthusiastic? If I had foreseen the freezing cold pre-dawn, pre-flight inspections and the lonely hours waiting for passengers at hot remote airstrips, would I have accepted the challenge? If someone had told me that the airline operations would become just like any other job, would I have listened to them? If I had known then all that I know now, would I have ever chosen to be a pilot?


Absolutely. In a heart-beat.


"So You Want to be a Pilot..." is an excerpt from the best-selling  '50 Tales of Flight'



An Aviation Website and Blog?

Owen Zupp - Monday, December 12, 2011

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has subscribed, emailed, commented or contacted me. It’s great to receive such feedback so early in the life of the new website.


One comment that has recurred is whether this is an aviation website and blog? The succinct answer is,.....well, yes and no. With such a strong link to aviation through my life thus far, it is inescapable for so many reasons. Not only has it been my prime interest for over forty years, but it was the means by which I have also entered the wonderful world of writing. However, is not purely an aviation website.


From 2012 I will have a number of projects starting up. There is a reprint of an existing book, a new title, a DVD of ‘There and Back’ are just some of the tasks ahead of me. There are also some forays into new fields outside of the spectrum of flight. Amongst these are manuscripts that step away from the theme of my past writings and will not necessarily possess an aviation theme. Similarly, my speaking engagements have not been solely limited to aviation in the past. There have definitely been events where I have spoken about the ‘There and Back’ flight around Australia and such items as the decision-making process in aviation, however, there have been others. There has been interest in what is involved in moving forward after being retrenched, just as I was following the Ansett collapse. There have also been occasions when my experiences in the Ambulance Service have played a central role in discussions.


So, yes and no, does possess an aviation theme, but that is not its limit. There will be a constant flow of varying viewpoints on a range of topics; particularly through the blog. So check back regularly, read the blog and see what’s new. If you get a chance, drop me a line, or sign up for the newsletter as the journey is only just beginning and as always, the more the merrier.



Recent Posts


Bush Pilot Super King Air Pearl Harbour 0/11 Boeing 747-400 QANTAS armore airpot coaxial blog Around Australia flight Flying Wing safer flying Commercial pilot licence Bert Hinkler Asiana rescue pilot jobs Diamond DA40 Pump Up the Angels there and back Beech King Air bombing of Darwin Kimpo aviation degree aero club Steve Cooke airliner green technology Planes Premiere fatal stall Red Baron the Fatal Stall Cb Solo Flight Australia. solo flight airman formation flying RNP deHavilland Mosquito top tips a aviation Shuttleworth Collection airplane Air France 447 pilot academy Matt Hall Chuck Yeager pilot popular aviation blog masters of aviation management C-47 SCAT open day QANTAS half yearly report QANTAS announcement owen zupp dogfight australian aviation Se5a Nancy Bird buying an aeroplane Flight for Control 737-300 The Pilots Blog choosing a flying school how to land Victorian Air Ambulance storm cells Grant McHerron short field Queenstown CO2 emissions flying ebook Down to Earth warbirds Steve Waugh Gloster Meteor 1942 Paramedic manuscript QANTAS Boeing 737 amazon Royal Australian Navy Ice Pilots RFC Impossible Airport George Hale most poular aviation blog J230D Glass revolution 723 squadron UAV flying training Ponting Foundation first flight Yak 18T owen zupp author QANTAS Boeing 737-800 ICAO Milford Sound how to land an aeroplane Titanic sinking Australian Army STOL Garmin B-17 Bradman Aviation Photography Brumby Evolution kitplanes aviation blog tom wolfe airbus A350 XWB ditching A350 XWB Winglets Pacific Warbirds Ricky Ponting EFATO Rolls Royce Merlin Strategic Airlines soldier RAA Boeing wings A320 commercial pilot license Brumby Piper Plane Crazy Down Under aeromedical Kitplane Airbus A330 50 More Tales of Flight Bradman Foundation solo flight australia sport student pilot airline bachelor of aviation FA-18 Hornet plane crash Caboolture Costa Concordia hijack The Battle of Britain Singapore Temora Aviation Museum Hong Kong Trader CAC Boomerang amazon best seller D-Day Korean Air War Airbus A320 warbird memory GenX 5 flying tips MH370 found flying school 2012 16R RMS Titanic Battle of Britain Nancy Bird-Bird Walton aviation careers Cathay Pacific Cargo the bombing of Darwin ditching an airplae the sky is not the limit Pearl Harbor Brumby High Wing QANTAS QF32 HUD Nancy Bird Walton J170 NASA Kenneth Butterworth McGlashan boeing 737 38 Squadron RAAF Scimitar Gen-X engines P2902 CAC Wirraway terrorism open cockpit Ansett Sydney Australia plane crash Bf109 dusty MXS Cessna Japanese Zero missing airliner landing an airplane raked wing-tip landing a jet buting an aeroplane Sydney Airport sailor contra-rotating propeller mosquito ZA003 50 tales of fllight hars aviaton author North American Harvard administration aviator Day of Infamy Sullenberger K.I.A future Owen Zupp, fly at aviation jobs cirrus crash Tiger Moth aviation best seller Defence Force Recruiting pilot blog Avalon Air Show Spitfire simpler time EFIS Blue Angels Boeing 737NG FA-18 Facebook QANTAS Formula One Grand Prix maiden flight Flying Fortress Boeing 737 Ferry Flight Bulldog Pitts aviation book Bell 429 P-51 Mustang September 11 arospace poppies landing an arplane the right stuff Boeing 787 Dreamliner solar Honolulu metal detectors QANTAS Boeing 747-400 careers in aviation Supermarine Spitfire ANZAC A350 QANTAS engineers addresses T-6 Australian Aviation magazine Steve Waugh Foundation Boeing 787 R-DX Q400 CA18 Mustang Douglas DC-3 Garmin G1000 50 tales of flight buying an airplane Boeing 747 canyoner Blackhawk Bell 429 helicopter Lockheed Hudson san francisco Special Casualty Access Team GFC bowral PCDU ballooning 1940 NSW Ambulance Service aerobatics airline collapse flying schoold Fleet Air Arm airlines Duxford how to land an airplane flight blog learning to fly army Wallaby Airlines Airbus A380 Yak Formation QANTAS A380 737NG VH-OQA anthony jackson principles of flight 9/11 Malaysia Airlines Red Bull SNJ Kenneth McGlashan Canberra skipper coosing a flight school Highlander airplane New Zealand aviation journalist International Cricket Hall of Fame tail rotor airshow Mittagong Airfield air australia Sir Donald Bradman flight school Flying Podcast aviation flight ebook aviation consultant low pass caribou MH370 NTSB flight deck aeroplane flying P-40 Kittyhawk low flying QF32 flying career Dunkirk Puffin Mick Wilson DX-R Ernest Gann pilot careers pilot suicide Seattle jabiru Northwest Orient Beechcraft speaking forced landing keynote speaker DH Mosquito aviation image aviation photography Korean War 737-400 planes McGrath Foundation aviation speaker Vietnam War Cessna Caravan airport security Queenstown New Zealand best aviation blog Boeing 737-800 RAF Boeing 747-8i Chris Sperou New Zealand: QANTAS aviation eBook deCrespigny September 11th stick and rudder Cathay Pacific firts solo flying instructor HGS WW1 aerospace airbus aeroplane blog VH-OJA B777 aviation consulatant 77 Squadron glass cockpit WW2 Edwards Air Base Avalon 2013 flying blog disney planes memorial Boeing 747-8F QANTAS Airbus A380 Glenn McGrath Kenneth McGlashan: Hawker Hurricane Ayers Rock fling Boeing 767 Lord of the Rings Dreamliner One Six Right Air Ambulance engine failure solo flight. asutralia aviation author wings night 737 classic Jabiru Aircraft Brumby Aircraft flight training Boeing 777 baggy green coaxe 400 ambulance Steve Visscher avspecs fly at biplae The Hobbit solo flight. australia Honolulu Airport aircraft tailwheel smashwords Flight 6231 787 cost of flying Yak 52 most popular aviation blog Dash 8 flying kangaroo CRT Terwilliger Productions pilot training Jetstar Bombardier land an aeroplane ANZAC Day contrail 747-8F USS Missouri G-force QF94 airliner missing EADI DC-3 hustling hinkler Bundaberg US Airways Flight 1549 de Crespigny biofuel Super Hornet iTunes National Press Club bell X-1 Brumby 610 G-ROBT Kingsford Smith Airport disney pixar Australian War Memorial writing Area 51 landing an aeroplane aerodynamic stall RAAF solo around australia p Owen Zupp airbus A350 war ghost spitfire 944 Pitts aircraft accident life saving aviation writer building your own aeroplane QANTAS pilots learn to fly US Navy cumulonimbus cricket Jatstar Airbus ATFV 737 speaker Scouts coastal flying BAE Hawk aviation story USS Arizona ditching an aeroplane Australia Mystery Aircraft Texas flight beyond blue Hawker Hurricane Ansett Australia Uluru


© Owen Zupp. All rights Reserved.                                             Admin . Privacy . Disclaimer                                            Website by Shot to Pieces . Powered by Blackroom