A Pilot's New Year. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Sunday, December 31, 2017




A Pilot's New Year.

A New Year Dawns.



By Owen Zupp.



An Excerpt from '50 Tales of Flight'

Unbelievably, the year is now down to its final hours. It has passed by leaving my children a little older and me none the wiser it would seem. The skies have again been kind to me these past twelve months, so as the champagne pops and the fireworks illuminate Sydney Harbour, my thoughts will again drift to an aviator now passed, who set me on my journey amongst the clouds.

He was a quiet man, short in stature but with arms made strong by a youth of combat and cane-cutting. He was predominantly self-educated, for drought and the Great Depression had stolen much of his childhood and any chance of a formal education. As a commando in the jungles of New Guinea, his kit-bag had been crammed with books on aerodynamics and aircraft while his dreams were of a life free of the earth’s muddy bonds. But it was merely a dream for a lad with a big heart and no apparent claim to the elevated world of aviation. At the war’s end, he traded the humidity of the jungle for the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima before finally wending his way home to Australia after years away at war.

Out of uniform, he found it hard to settle down, drifting from one sugar-cane field to another with a few belongings strapped to the rear of his motorcycle. It was hard, hot labour to bring the mighty cane down by hand with snakes underfoot and insects clinging to the raw nectar running down his bare back. At the end of the sugar season, ultimately the road once again led him to the military, but this time as a mechanic in the Royal Australian Air Force. Finally surrounded by the machines he loved, he flourished in the hands-on application of his newly discovered knowledge. With money in his pocket and a home on the air base, he would spend his free hours studying aviation and paying for private flying lessons at the civilian school just across the tarmac. His dream was coming true, although his stunted education continued to form a barrier to any career in the sky; until fate dealt its hand.

With the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, the air force was now depleted in its supply of post-war pilots. It called for volunteers from amongst its ranks and when a kindly commanding officer countersigned the young mechanic's application, his world was changed forever. Within 18 months he had transitioned from repairing airframes to flying fighter combat missions over North Korea. As a Sergeant Pilot he would fly over two hundred sorties at the helm of a Gloster Meteor in the lethal ground attack role which saw many of his squadron mates killed in action. On one occasion, his own canopy was blown off by enemy fire and shrapnel was embedded in his face. Even so, he limped the damaged jet home and flew two missions the next day. He returned home a decorated veteran and finally completed his formal education at night school.

He married an air force corporal who he had met prior to leaving for Korea when she had processed his departure paperwork. Together they moved from base to base before a civil career ultimately called. From international airlines to cloud-seeding, flight instruction to target-towing, there was very little that the short boy from the Australian bush didn’t fly at some stage in the next forty years. Yet in the 23,000 hours aloft and countless aircraft types, training always held a special place for him. The chance to mentor the next generation of pilots was something he valued as he always recalled how close his dream had come to never eventuating. If he saw a desire to fly in a young set of eyes, he would go the extra mile to make it happen.

He saw that desire in me from a young age and set an example that I still aspire to achieve. As an instructor, he was unsurpassed and held in the highest regard by his peers. He had the knack of explaining complex concepts in simple terms with a million ‘rules of
thumb’ to match. For him, flight was always magnificent, but never elite. He cringed at the brash, slicked-back, sunglasses brigade but had endless patience for the struggling student who was trying their very best. He had fought in the jungle and stared down the tracer bullets that struck his jet, yet he never swore in front of women and always stood when they entered the room; he was old school.

To me, he passed down so much more than the manipulative skills needed to fly an aeroplane. He instilled airmanship, a sense of command and an ultimate respect for the aircraft and the environment in which it operates. He loathed complacency and arrogance and highlighted that disciplined flying presented the greatest challenge and the most satisfaction. He set the bar very high and I was privileged to have such an outstanding mentor.

So as another year draws to a close, spare a thought for that special person who inspired you or guided you in your fledgling hours aloft. Revisit their lessons and strengths and give thanks for their patience and knowledge. Recount some of their anecdotes and share them with friends and family this New Year’s Eve. It is a real gift to take to the sky, but without a steady guiding hand along the way, the journey can be fraught with potential dangers and self-doubt.

If it’s possible, make contact with your mentor and thank them for their effort. It will mean the world to them and offer a chance to share the hours that have been logged since you last spoke. I would dearly love to speak with the man from the bush who taught me all that I know today and hear more of his pearls of wisdom. However, for me, that is no longer an option as cancer took him nearly twenty years ago when I was still a young bush pilot taking my own first steps. Even so, as I sit around this New Years Eve I will spare him a thought and a silent word of thanks. He was the best pilot I ever met. He was my Dad.

Flying Officer Phillip Zupp M.I.D. AM (US) 1925-1991



My Next Book. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Saturday, December 30, 2017


My next book? It is still a very frequently asked question. As mentioned previously, I am writing the story of my mother's life

Edith Blight, as she was known before marrying my father, was a country girl from Kempsey. A WW2 'Hush Hush Girl' (radar operator), among a number of other things, her life was dramatically marked by tragedy until she met my dad six years after the war's end.

This is a tale of love and loss and a lady that forged her own frontiers in a very different time.

Much of the research was completed a few years ago and I interviewed mum a number of times before her passing. Today, these files are stored on my computer. However, mum was also a prolific note-taker, diarist and letter writer with numerous photo albums to support her words. As such, I have a sea of research material, which is a tremendous position to be in. Reading her notes in her own hand, I can still hear her voice - it's a wonderful feeling.

I am well into the first draft and her character and emotion is definitely coming alive through her words.

I'll continue to keep you posted as I venture along this writing journey.



Organising some of mum's handwritten notes.

Release Your Inner Author. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Saturday, December 30, 2017

Start writing your first book. 

1976. Don't wait decades to start writing....like i did!


Casting my mind back, my writing journey began long before my first book was published in 2007. As a schoolboy, I possessed a passion for creative writing. The freedom of releasing thoughts onto a page and sharing them with others was one of the most satisfying experiences of my childhood. If there was a writing bloodline, it undoubtedly flowed from my mother’s side.

But something happened along the way. I stopped writing.

On completing my schooling, I went into two rather technical fields – firstly as a paramedic and then as a pilot. My reading habit was forced from novels to manuals and everything else in life pushed my writing into the background, other than disorganised passages in disorganised notebooks. This would continue for twenty years until my life as a pilot was turned on its head through the collapse of the airline I was flying for.

While helpful, the consultant in the government employment office reminded me that my skill set was very narrow, or to use his words, “Highly skilled, but totally unemployable”. From that instant, I made a resolution to never be solely reliant upon any single vocation ever again. Despite eventually gaining employment with another airline, I set about completing a Masters Degree and this led to consulting work and in turn, technical writing projects. Yes, once again I was buried in manuals. The remuneration was worthwhile, but I soon realised if I was to write concurrently with my full-time profession as a pilot, the passion needed to be there - and it wasn’t.

At first, I wrote for free for various journals and then I worked up the courage to pitch a story to a magazine that paid. It was the story of a fateful mission when my fighter-pilot father was wounded on a low-level sortie over North Korea in 1952. Once accepted, the story had to be written, printed out and posted with a CD-ROM of images to the editor and some months later it would be published.

I can still remember the fax being slid under my hotel room door. My wife had copied the article and sent it to me in the middle of the night as I slept on the other side of the world. The sheer joy of that first feature ignited the spark and I was set on the road to authorship at that point and I have never looked back. My only regret is the two decades that my creative angst was buried within as life got in the way.

Personally, I am not one for New Year’s resolutions – I am just one for resolutions. However, as 2018 is upon us there is possibly a degree of synergy in play. Make this the year that you begin to write. It may be a feature article, it may be the first chapter of that book that you have always contemplated. Whatever burns within, sit down and begin. And then persist.

It won’t necessarily be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. In your favour are the wealth of resources in circulation on the internet that are specifically designed to assist fledgling authors, such as podcasts.

Don’t wait any longer, release the author within now and open a whole new chapter of your life. You won’t regret it.

Best wishes for 2018.


My Top 5 Podcasts for Independent Authors and Publishers. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Friday, December 29, 2017



I have been able to find my feet as an independent author and publisher, predominantly through the medium of podcasts.


My first independently published eBook was a rather haphazard affair which I hurriedly published before boarding an aircraft bound for Hawaii and yet by the time that the aircraft touched down, hundreds of copies of ’50 Tales of Flight’ had already been sold. The initial reviews were fantastic, although a few critical ones fairly commented on the cover and the chronology – two elements that I was able to revise with minimal fuss.


What those first sales and reviews highlighted to me was that I needed to become more informed if I was to pursue this creative endeavour further. Fortunately, the ‘Indie’ scene is comprised of many generous individuals who are prepared to share their journey and knowledge and in many cases, this is done via a podcast.


There are many podcasts for independent authors and publishers, but here are five that I have continued to listen to regularly for varying reasons. To avoid repetition, I will say that they ALL serve to educate the budding Indie in the core elements, but each podcast also brings an additional perspective that makes it different in its own way. Consequently, these five podcasts each bring a unique piece to the puzzle. Hopefully, this list will assist you.




1.       Mark Dawson’s Self-Publishing Formula.

Everything from A to Z.

For those in the know, Mark Dawson is an extremely successful author in his own right. Hosted by James Blatch and Mark Dawson, this podcast covers a range of topics through interviews with a range of guests encompassing all aspects of both writing and publishing. Mark Dawson is also well known for his courses in online advertising for authors and this podcast frequently offers an insight into this critical phase of a book’s life once it has been written.


2.       The Creative Penn.

The Authorpreneur.

Like Mark Dawson, Joanna Penn is well known in the industry as a successful author in both fiction and non-fiction realms. Her Creative Penn podcast is particularly informative in the business of authorship. Through open discussion, Joanna actively demonstrates how a successful author needs to have many strings to their bow to create a viable writing career and that an author needs the mindset of a CEO as well as that of a creative.


3.       The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins.

A Writing Life.

Jeff Goins has written a book discussing the concept that real artists don’t need to starve and quotes historical figures to support the concept. As the title of his podcast would suggest, Jeff takes a holistic approach to the author’s journey, embracing both the technical and the philosophical keys to creating a writing life – or portfolio.


4.       The Sell More Books Show.

Staying Informed.

The world of independent authors is dynamic to say the very least. Hosted by Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen, this podcast is a weekly one-stop shop to keep pace with the latest developments in writing, technology and marketing. One could spend hours attempting to harvest the same information from numerous news feeds, but they all come to meet in this one podcast.


5.       Self Publishing Journeys.

You Are Not Alone.

This podcast by Paul Teague is probably less known than the preceding four podcasts, however, what it offers is an insight into the author’s journey at a range of levels. From Paul’s open and honest podcast diary, to a range of guests at differing stages of their writing and publishing careers, the listener can feel at one with like-minded authors. This podcast reaffirms that there is light at the end of the tunnel through the experiences of others.

Solo Flight. Chapter 11. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Distant Voices.


Day Two. Barkly Homestead. 


Minutes after I depart Camooweal, I leave Queensland and enter the Northern Territory. There are no dotted lines on the ground to confirm the fact, just a reminder on the moving map of my GPS.


The Barkly Highway continues on its way as I enter my fifth and final hour of flight time for the day. Buzz Aldrin once described the lunar surface as “magnificent desolation” and while there is still vegetation below, I can understand to some degree what he meant. There is a real beauty in a vastness void of man. It makes one feel so small and insignificant and yet can inspire the mind to a deeper level of reflection. Perhaps it brushes away the illusion of self-importance and offers a sense of perspective in its place. Whatever it is, I draw a deep breath and smile at the remote world around me.


Gradually the earth becomes redder and the green tinges more sparse. Only the occasional bore breaks the trend like an outback oasis. The highway comes back towards me and if I allowed my eye to follow its thin black line I can just see a small group of buildings, but little more. It is Barkly Homestead and that isolated gathering is to be my home for the night.

An Outback Bore.


I nose the Jabiru over into a speedy descent, partly for efficiency and partly out of an enthusiasm to land. The red dirt runway is not far from the road with a thin track seeming to join it to the greater community. As I join the landing circuit overhead I struggle to interpret the windsock which appears to be hanging very limply. There are no water masses, trees, smoke or flags to offer any tell-tale signs of the wind direction or strength either. It is strange that the conditions are so calm when I had been enjoying a very healthy tailwind for the last half an hour.


Nevertheless, given the conditions I decide to land towards the settlement so after landing I can simply taxi off into town without having to backtrack down the runway. I position the aircraft to land, but as I enter the final stages of the approach it is obvious that conditions are not calm at all. I can sense the aircraft drifting sidewards over the ground on the base leg, pushing me towards the airfield. Then as I turn to line up with the runway the picture outside isn’t correct and it is apparent that there is a tailwind pushing me at speed towards the runway.


I decide to abort the landing attempt and fly a ‘missed approach’. As I pass the wind-sock at this lower altitude, it becomes obvious why it was hanging limply; there is virtually nothing left of it. Just a few shreds of cloth hang from the ring at the top of the pole, offering no worthwhile information about the wind speed or direction. As aircraft are designed to ideally land into wind, I reverse my intended landing and proceeded to touchdown on the fine red silt of Barkly Homestead’s runway without any further drama.


This windsock had very little left to say.

Taxiing from the airstrip ‘into town’ is an adventure in its own right. It is not so much a taxiway built for aeroplanes as a track built for four-wheel drives. The surface is far from level and the undergrowth reaches out from either side. I maintain a slow pace, conscious of not striking the propeller and watching each wing tip in turn to avoid banging into a branch. It is challenging, but I love it! This is outback flying. This is the flying of my youth.


I emerge from the scrub into a clearing where a lone fuel bowser stands ready to fill the Jabiru’s thirsty tanks. When the propeller comes to a halt, I pause for a few minutes to complete the paperwork, sign off the flight details and take in the scenery around me. I climb out and pop Bert onto the engine cowling to pose for a photo for my children, while I wait to see if anyone emerges from the buildings over yonder.


Bert takes a breather at Barkly.

As I wipe down the Jabiru’s flanks like a sweaty mare, I am met by one of the locals with a shake of the hand and an iconic “G’Day’. He assists me in getting the fuel pump started as it was being cantankerous and didn’t want to start. After a nudge here and there, the pump motor begins to hum and I fill the Jabiru with fuel as kite-hawks sweep in circles overhead.


I am directed to a parking spot near the caravans, but the track looks a touch too narrow for me, so I opt to pull the Jabiru by hand to its resting place for the night. Dragging the aircraft by its propeller, it bobbles and bounces along the uneven track as I contemplate a shower and a hot meal. Finally I have the aircraft parked and unpacked, by which time a small crowd of interested onlookers have arrived to see the aeroplane in the midst of their cabins and trailers. Despite feeling decidedly weary, I show a number of people the Jabiru and explain the purpose of my flight. As always, the Royal Flying Doctor Service crest and motto on the aircraft provided a central starting point for the questions.


As the crowd dwindles, I check into my cabin for the night. It is a simple, clean and tidy demountable building and just as I remember it from my stay here with my father twenty years before. In fact, the very cabin we stayed in is a mere two doors away and once again a strong sense of sentiment runs through me. However, it was not the time to idly ponder just yet as I still have phone interviews to conduct, blogs to write and emails to answer. Only then can I sign off the day behind me and ready for the one ahead.


The night is almost upon Barkly and the wind is beginning to die down. The colours of the sunset beyond the water tower are amazing and I decide to farewell the day in silence beside the Jabiru. The last rays of light subside and I enjoy the warm, dark silence a little longer.


The end of the day at Barkly Homestead.

Finally, I head across to the restaurant where some good outback fare is on the menu. Steaks that could have been cut from dinosaurs and all you can eat salads, vegetables and chips. The Irish waitress that takes my order tells me how she is working her way around Australia and this outback whistle-stop was her latest destination. I admire her free will but couldn’t help thinking of the gulf that exists between Belfast and Barkly.


Back in my room I make one last call home to Kirrily and the kids before turning in. In the absence of streetlights the room is pitch black with the silence only occasionally broken by a passing ‘Road Train’ or wildlife scratching around in the scrub outside. My mind steps through time as I recall the last time I had rested at Barkly on another dark, dark night. It was an evening that I have never forgotten.


It was set to the soundtrack of my father’s breathing; rhythmic, deep and gradually slowing. Yet despite his fatigue from the day’s driving, sleep was not forthcoming and eventually his voice moved bodiless about the room. The sound of his creaking bed gave way to steady pacing as he moved unseen. This very quiet man stopped and then began to speak in a way that I have never heard.


Made anonymous by the night, he spoke of a childhood of hard times and the shame of a farm lost. He spoke of war, blood and death. Hour after hour, my father delved deeper and deeper into his soul as I lay awkwardly in silence.  He jumped from the steamy the jungles of New Guinea and a patrol gone wrong to the frigid hills of Korea and the devastation he witnessed at Hiroshima. The recollections were only interrupted when he offered up answers to questions I would never dare ask. His mood swung between acceptance and raging hate and only when the clock passed 2am did the pace subside to infrequent muttering before he finally lay down and his breathing slowed into sleep. I had not said a single word.


Now I lie alone, two rooms and twenty years from that night. I have often wondered if he knew then that he was dying and felt a need to purge his being of those things that had never been uttered. I will never know, although I have my suspicions. For him, his journey was nearing its end that night at Barkly. For me, I still have so far to go.


Remote Sunset.




 Read the full story of 'Solo Flight' here.




My Amazon Kindle Daily Deal. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Saturday, December 23, 2017



The email from Amazon arrived and I was very suspicious. I had received similar emails in the past, so the first thing that I did was to contact Amazon regarding its authenticity. Good news - it was genuine and my book, ‘Without Precedent’, had been selected for an Amazon Kindle Daily Deal.

There was minimal notice given, so I set about notifying my mailing list and spreading the word on social media. Unfortunately, it was a deal for the Australian Amazon website, so it did not reach out to the huge US market where ‘Without Precedent’ is a constant performer. However, I was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

For the uninitiated, on selecting your book, Amazon nominate a date for the promotion and also assign a heavily discounted price. While this may reduce the royalty margin, it is offset by the increased volume of sales and the opportunity to reach a greater audience. Discoverability is the tough part in this game at times.

The day came and went and my sales were roughly seventy times greater than my usual daily sales of the title. Yes, seventy. As you can see, that satisfactorily offsets the discounted price. It also enhanced discoverability as my overall sales increased in the following weeks.

In summary, if you are selected for an Amazon Kindle Daily Deal, it is certainly worth it. It may have been even more successful if I had a greater audience and reach, but I’m still working on that. And if the deal is extended to the United States, one can only imagine.

Happy writing to you all.

Standing Guard. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Saturday, December 23, 2017

Phillip Zupp. Without Precedent book. 


There are only a few degrees registering on the mercury, but there isn’t the slightest puff of a breeze. The sun is beaming and the people of Tokyo are going about there business in their very orderly and very quiet manner.

I have read about this city and I have written about this city, but this is the first time that I have ever visited this city. My father visited this city in the immediate aftermath of World War Two as a young soldier, shipped out from the jungles of New Guinea to Japan.

He was primarily based at ‘Ground Zero’ - Hiroshima. Although he also served for a period in Tokyo where, among other duties, he stood guard at the Imperial Palace. Now, on this cold, sunny and still morning I stand at the palace’s gates.

The guard houses still stand. Small grey stone cylinders, topped by green-tarnished copper roofs. Within, stand uniformed Japanese servicemen in navy blue uniforms, trimmed with brilliantly white gloves. Seventy years ago, my father stood there in khaki and a slouch hat, trimmed with a brilliantly white belt and webbing.

The ancient moat surrounding the palace still remains, although now towering office blocks provide the backdrop. As my father stood guard a good deal of the surroundings had been razed by an airborne armada that had fire-bombed Tokyo almost beyond recognition.

His 20 year-old eyes would have looked upon a very different scene and he could not have imagined that his son would stand there, staring at his guard house, half a century on. Yet, here I stand.

My father could not visualise the future, but my imagination is able to overlay the past on this scene before me. I can see his khaki, I can see the brown leather chin strap and I can see that expressionless face he would wear when it was time to get down to business.

The experience moves me - as it always does. Each time I walk in his steps another small piece of the puzzle falls into place and the gaping hole left by his loss all those years ago is filled just a little more.


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