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


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


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