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


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


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