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.

'Without Precedent' Video Book Trailer.

Owen Zupp - Thursday, November 30, 2017



'Without Precedent' By Owen Zupp.



Solo Flight. Chapter 10. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Sunday, November 26, 2017


The Real Outback.


Day Two. Longreach - Mount Isa - Barkly Homestead. 



The alarm clock buzzes right on time as one expects but secretly hopes otherwise.

I throw my legs over the side of the bed, start the laptop and ‘flick’ on the kettle. Everything from the cup of tea to my clothes is in order from the night before; ready and set to go. The weather still looks faultless along my route, so I send through the flight details over the wonder of the internet and begin to get my gear together. I have organised an early breakfast and a lift to the airport with the good folks at the Jumbuck and I’m on my way before I know it. The sun is only just breaking the horizon although it seems to rise more quickly in this part of the world.


Despite the early hour, I call my sister Pamela and recount the incredible coincidence of Dad’s ‘Red Baron’ song being played the night before. We agree that neither of us have heard it since about 1969 and recall Dad’s out-of-tune gusto in singing the song and his emphasis on the word, “Bloody”. She wishes me luck and I hang up with a smile on my face, ready for the day ahead.


The Dash-8 is still parked on the tarmac from the night before as I pre-flight the Jabiru. I had fuelled the aircraft the night before, but a thorough going over is still needed at the beginning of each day’s flying. I remove the engine cowling and what lies beneath is as clean as a whistle. The engineers have fitted a small bottle to catch any oil that vents overboard to both keep the aircraft clean and monitor my oil usage. That container is empty and the oil quantity dip-stick confirms the fact that the Jabiru hasn’t used a drop on the first day. A reassuring thought as I am about to set course over the remote reaches of western Queensland and the Northern Territory.


Preflight Inspection.

I farewell Longreach and the bloody Red Baron to an escort of birds emerging from the grass just as I lift off and set course to the north-west. Mount Isa, my first port of call, is about three hours away but a great deal of history lies between here and there. This region was the early stomping grounds of both QANTAS and the Royal Flying Doctor Service and I will be retracing many of the air routes of those early days as the Jabiru skips along its way.


The aircraft cruises along smoothly and I cannot help but smile to the point of singing. There is not a single cloud in the sky or a ripple of turbulence. My calculations have me benefiting from a tailwind and destined to be ahead of schedule. It is absolute perfection in the context of light aircraft ‘visual’ flight. As a consequence, I am relaxed and enjoying every minute and mile as they pass. I stretch over, grab a Muesli Bar and enjoy some fine dining in the skies. This is living!


My first turning point is Winton. I was once told that QANTAS was conceived in Cloncurry, born in Winton, but grew up in Longreach. If that was the case, the airline’s maternity ward now lies dead ahead. I had visited there once before when my Dad and I had driven to Kununurra together. My strongest memory was of the humble monument on the site of the first QANTAS office, so significant to our aviation history, but so easily passed without notice. For a moment I recalled standing at the edge of the paddock where Houdini had first flown and another moment in history oft overlooked.


Similarly Winton passes beneath my nose at two-miles-per-minute and is gone in a moment, but not forgotten. An hour later I overfly Julia Creek and another forty minutes Cloncurry is ticked off the flight plan. In my modern cockpit they are mere waypoints, but in reality Julia Creek was the destination and Cloncurry the origin of the first official flight of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.


John Flynn had previously experimented with the concept of an aerial inland mission having witnessed the tragedies that had befallen the outback’s pioneers for lack of medical care. In time his experiment grew and in 1928 he had the finances to launch the entity that would ultimately become the globally-renowned Royal Flying Doctor Service. One of his supporters was the QANTAS founder, Hudson Fysh, and the first aircraft was also supplied by the airline. These two quintessentially Australian organisations were linked from birth and even today the QANTAS Foundation supports the work of the RFDS.


For a lover of aviation and history, these miles beneath me are golden. I can almost see the ancient DH50 biplane leaving its trail of dust below as it lumbers into the sky on another selfless mission of mercy. I can hear the roar of the engine and see the pilot in his open cockpit weathering the elements while his precious human cargo remained shelter within the cabin ahead of him. I tip my hat to those who had the courage to see their vision through to reality without any of the creature comforts that we enjoy today.


From Cloncurry I set a westerly course to Mount Isa. For a while I share the company of a mining train that is seemingly endless with its carriages full of ore. ‘The Isa’ is far more familiar to me having flown here only weeks before, albeit in a Boeing 737. From a good distance out I sight the chimneys and the ridge line to the west of the airport. Isa is a thriving mining town with regular jet services and all manner of light aircraft launching for smaller outback stations. I monitor the radio carefully and co-ordinate my arrival with the comings and goings of this busy airport.


The Jabiru with my other ‘office’ in the background at Mount Isa.

A strong wind is blowing down Runway 16 as I line up for the landing. There is a little convective turbulence bouncing me around as the day warms up, but mostly I am struck by my slow speed over the ground as I approach to land. Gradually the runway draws closer and finally I arrive over the bitumen where I hover onto the surface with just a trickle of forward speed. I keep the power on a touch and accelerate towards the next turn-off to clear the runway for the inbound aeroplanes I can hear chattering on the radio.


Friendly folks and family at ‘The Isa’.

As I pull the Jabiru up to the fuel bowser there is a small gathering of people. Most are from the local base of the RFDS, on hand to give me a welcome, and the other is a reporter from the ABC. It is always touching to be met by welcoming faces no matter how far from home you may be. My website and the media tells me that people are following the flight, but the chance to stop and chat and put faces to the ISP addresses is so much more. After a brief conversation, it emerges that I am related to one of the RFDS staff; my father and her grandfather were cousins!


They had shared a rather ‘Tom Sawyer’ upbringing on the Darling Downs during the 1930s. It was the hard times of the Great Depression and drought on the land and yet these young boys made the most of their childhood. Undoubtedly their tough upbringing served them well as their manhood was destined to be overshadowed by a world at war hurling them to all corners of the globe. Here I was, miles from anywhere and yet again Dad has poked his nose into this flight around Australia.


I am given the grand tour of the RFDS facility and their Super King Airs, whose interior aeromedical kit-out is particularly interesting to me as both a pilot and a former paramedic. The good people even have a cake to mark my visit to Mount Isa and I could spend a lot more time here chatting about family and flying. However, by the time I have completed the media interviews, the clock is ticking loudly and the trusty Jabiru is ready to take me across my first state border.


For the first time a real sense of isolation struck me. With Mount Isa’s chimneys shrinking to matchsticks behind me, very little lies ahead. The road and rail line roughly parallel my route to serve as a comforting back-up to my navigation, but otherwise there is only mile upon mile of vast expanse. One by one the bars indicating the signal strength of my mobile phone drop away until the phone is little more than a camera and an inert box of circuitry. Still it continues to hunt for some trace of communication with the outside world. Searching, searching....


The towering clouds ahead begin to dump their watery contents in a series of rain showers that are too opaque to penetrate. As I skirt the edges, the occasional spray reaches the Jabiru as if to wipe its face and quench its thirst with the temperature climbing into the thirties. All around me the green tinge continues to colour the outback and usually dry creek beds boast water and billabongs. This rain is obviously not the first of the year.


Downtown Camooweal.

Camooweal and its population of a few hundred people emerge from behind a shower with the Barkly Highway running into it like a yellow brick road. My GPS, map and the world outside are in total agreement as the clock ticks over right on time. I had mentioned Camooweal in my live radio interview back at Mount Isa, so I take a few moments to lazily circle the town in a gentle arc. Sure enough people emerge from their homes and looked skyward at the little Jabiru overhead, waving the occasional tea towel. It was a heart-warming moment that didn’t end when I rolled the aircraft level and continued on my way to Barkly Homestead.




 Read the full story of 'Solo Flight' here.




Without Precedent soars to new heights.

Owen Zupp - Friday, November 24, 2017



Hi All,

This week was an amazing one for my book, 'Without Precedent'.

Having been selected by Amazon for promotion from more than a million titles, it reached an outright ranking of number 19!

In doing so, it was the number one title in a range of categories including 'Biography' and 'Military History'.

Thank you everyone, for supporting the book and allowing dad's story to reach so many readers. (Even though he would be embarrassed by all of the fuss)




Today is the Day!

Owen Zupp - Wednesday, November 22, 2017



Hi All,

Today is the day! 

As previously advised, the Australian Amazon website selected 'Without Precedent' for a one-day promotion. Among their millions of titles, it's very difficult to get one of these. TODAY, they are selling the eBook for only $1.49 for 24 hours. Not much in it for me financially, but it's great coverage for dad's story. 

So if you haven't read it yet, you can get it right now! Here's the link. 'Without Precedent' for only $1.49!



AirCam. This looks like fun.

Owen Zupp - Monday, November 20, 2017



AirCam. This looks like fun! 

'Without Precedent' selected by Amazon.

Owen Zupp - Friday, November 17, 2017




Hi All,

The Australian Amazon website has selected 'Without Precedent' for a one-day promotion next week. Among their millions of titles, it's very difficult to get one of these. Next Wednesday they are selling the eBook for only $1.49 for 24 hours. Not much in it for me financially, but it's great coverage for dad's story. 

So if you haven't read it yet, next Wednesday might be the day! Here's the link -

'Without Precedent' Offer.


Solo Flight. Chapter 8. By Owen Zupp.

Owen Zupp - Thursday, November 16, 2017





Chapter 8. 

Day One. Bundaberg to Emerald.



D-Day. Departure Day. It is 5am and all is quiet outside.

I hurry to look out the window of my hotel room to see that the high pressure system has won the battle overnight. The sky is absolutely crystal clear and illuminated by the first rays of dawn in one direction and the waning of the twinkling stars in the other. I could not have hoped for a better sight and I hurriedly log onto my computer to check the latest weather forecasts and charts. The news is all good, in fact, it is perfect. Not only is the weather to the west look clear, but the winds on the back curve of the ‘high’ should give me a favourable little push through the skies.


Without delay I fax my flight plan details to Peter Buscall back in Sydney where he will maintain a ‘Search and Rescue’ watch as he follows my flight. I shower, shave and pack my gear, then make my way to the dining room at the ‘Villa Mirasol’ for a full breakfast to the most perfect of settings. The flight is a ‘go’ and in a few hours I will begin my journey around Australia. You beauty!


At Bundaberg Airport there is an air of excitement. As preparations for the arrival of dignitaries are attended to at the passenger terminal, I complete the loading of the aircraft outside of the hangar. Even with the mass of equipment I have on board, the load does not even reach the bottom sills of the windows and the aircraft remains well below its maximum take-off weight. All that remains is to refuel ’73-81’ and get on my way.


It is an hour prior to my planned 10am departure as I taxi the Jabiru to the bowser on the main tarmac. As I round the corner I can see the small crowd gathering, intermingled with the cameras, cables and boom microphones of the media. Inside I feel a subtle mixture of excitement and anticipation, but overwhelmingly my mind is on the job at hand. The first day, the first sector, the first take-off.


Fortunately the fuel bowser is a little distance away from the centre of excitement, allowing me to refuel in an unhurried manner and arrange my cockpit and charts so that I will be able to climb aboard and depart speedily when the time comes. For the moment though, I shake a number of hands and warmly thank the people for the tremendous support they have shown me. Local councillors, newspapers, TV channels, radio stations and representatives from the Hinkler Hall of Aviation are all here as well as the good folks of Bundaberg. I am humbled by the turn-out and take care not to rush the moment, as keen as I am to start flying.


A last wave farewell.

The Mayor hands me a parcel of ‘letters of welcome’ from Bundaberg to hand to the Mayors of other Australian townships along the way. It is a significant gesture and reminds me of the far reach of this flight. The act also serves to nicely round off formalities and cue me to wave farewell and climb aboard the Jabiru.


Aware that everyone is waiting for that ‘last goodbye’ moment, I start 73-81 and taxied her away from the tarmac area to the engine run-up bay. Here I thoroughly check that everything is in order and brief myself for the departure to Emerald one last time. The load behind me is lashed down and I am strapped in. I feel in my pocket for Bert Hinkler’s autograph. It is safe and secure.


On my way around Australia.


The breeze is light and the sky is beautifully blue as I line the Jabiru up on Bundaberg’s Runway 14. I smoothly ease the throttle forward and the engine smoothly responds. The wheels begin to turn with increasing pace as the acceleration forces me back into my seat and the blades of grass outside begin to blend into a blur of green. The engine instruments tell me that all in order and the airspeed indicator tells me that it is time to fly. 73-81 is already starting to raise her nose as I gently pull back on the control column in my right hand. The vibration and the noise of the ground’s finite runway succumb to the speed and smoothness of the limitless sky. I am on my way.


Out to my left I can see the small crowd still there waving farewell, while ahead the coastline appears beyond the nose. I reach down and select the flaps to ‘up’, prompting the little electric motor to set about whirring to its task. Flaps up, after-take-off checks complete and a sweeping left hand turn to set course along the coast to Gladstone. I log the time on my flight plan; 4 minutes past 10 o’clock. It’s an on-time departure and only a short day of flying ahead of me.

Bert fills in as the cameraman.

I level off at 2,500 feet and set the engine RPMs to 2850. From the instrumentation I ascertain that the Jabiru is drinking fuel at the miserly rate of only 25 litres per hour and passing through the air at a brisk 117 knots. Everything is off to a copybook beginning as I fill out my flight log, check the GPS and ensure that everything is in order. I take a deep breath and a few photographs, including one of ‘Bert’ on the dashboard. Bert is a small soft toy in the form of a little brown dog that my children have asked me to carry. Bert sits there in the sun, smiling and ready for the long haul ahead. Then it hits me.....


The planning and preparation was now over and this long flight has actually begun. In my head James Taylor’s line of “10 miles behind me and 10,000 more to go” bounces around with added significance. As I turn inland the coastal strip gave away to the greens and browns of central Queensland. Rocky ranges jut up from the undulating foliage, while ahead the visibility is unlimited and the horizon merges earth and sky in a subtle union beyond the eye’s focus. It is only the first hour and I am already captivated by the beauty of Australia’s raw enormity.


Setting course. 7,500 miles to go.

I had only planned a relatively small day of flying, anticipating delays out of Bundaberg that never eventuated. The media was on time, the weather played the game and the dignitaries were waiting for me. As a consequence, it was now only a couple of hours flying to Emerald to refuel and another couple onto Longreach where I would stay the night.


Gradually the ranges and their eucalypts give way to the inland and mile upon mile of straw-coloured paddocks. A lone fire to the south billows grey smoke into the air, but otherwise the sky is featureless and the land is only divided by the occasional fence or road. In the distance a township begins to grow from the horizon, not a metropolis, but far more than the occasional homestead and coal mine I have sighted so far. As I draw closer, the irrigated pastures showcase various shades of green, interspersed with the red soil of ploughed fields. In their midst sits the long black strip of asphalt that is Emerald Airport.


As I position to land the only other chatter on the radio is a lone King Air, a Flying Doctor inbound to Emerald. How appropriate I muse, that the first aircraft I hear is one of the very aircraft that I am flying to support. Those green pastures grow closer as doe the black tar and before long the Jabiru’s wheels are once again reunited with the planet and on their way to the fuel bowser.


First stop. Emerald, Queensland.


As I climb up to refuel the Jabiru’s wings I chat with a young charter pilot who is whittling away the hours while his passengers are in town conducting their business. We share a joke and a little bit of pilot brotherhood as the cool AVGAS pours into the tanks. I couldn’t help but reflect how many hours I had spent wandering around airports, stretched out on terminal benches or peering through the cracks in hangar doors. It is part of a pilot’s journey and for me it was decades ago, but still in some ways it was only a heart-beat away.


Refreshed and re-supplied I start the Jabiru and ready myself for another take-off. However, another Flying Doctor is on the move. I park the brakes and sit back, letting the RFDS aircraft go by and depart first as undoubtedly his commitments are more pressing than mine. As he taxied past my little Jabiru he must have caught a glimpse of the RFDS crest on the nose of my aeroplane as he transmitted a little “Good Luck!” over the radio and gave me a thumbs up. The brotherhood is alive and well.


As the King Air rapidly disappears from sight, I enter the runway and track back to the white stripes at the threshold before turning around to depart. All clear, I release the brakes and open the throttle, sending 73-81 rolling down the pavement. Lifting off, we are on our way again. Another short hop, but this one will take me to the home of one of Australian aviation’s founding fathers.



 Read the full story of 'Solo Flight' here.



All the Gallant Men.

Owen Zupp - Sunday, November 12, 2017




So often history is recorded by academics with a retrospective viewpoint - not so in this book. Donald Stratton was a serving sailor at Pearl Harbor on that day that will "live in infamy". And while those academic records are of value, only first-hand accounts such as "All the Gallant Men" can truly project the emotion of the time. Personally, I not only thank Donald Stratton for his service, but for recalling such a significant point in history from the honest, humble perspective of one who was actually there. Very highly recommended.

Meteors Over Korea. A FlyPast Feature.

Owen Zupp - Friday, November 03, 2017




Hi All,

Just letting you know that the December issue of FlyPast magazine covers a 6-page feature on my father's experiences as a fighter pilot during the Korean War.

The layout by FlyPast is great and if you'd like to know more, you can always read "Without Precedent".





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