Go Flying Australia Podcast 008: Airline Pilot And Author Owen Zupp

Summary: On todays episode I talk with Owen Zupp who is a published author, journalist and experienced commercial pilot. With over 17,000 hours of varied flight experience he has flown many aircraft, great and small, from outback Australia to all points across the globe.

We would love your feedback and questions

Please leave a comment below or use the below links to send either myself or Owen a message:

– Podcast Contact Page

– Owens Contact Page

Show Notes and Links

How Owen got introduced to Aviation

As long as Owen can remember he has been exposed to Aviation.  Owen’s father was RAAF pilot and commercial pilot (Airlines, towing targets and air ambulance).

Aviation Career

Owen worked as a paramedic when he was younger to help pay for his flying training.

Flying Training

Owen’s father was his flight instructor and provided all his dual instruction except for his instructor rating.  Having his father as an instructor was advantageous and he was lucky to spend the time with him during his training.

His Father as an instructor

His father had a lot of experience from instructing in the military and was able to pass on his knowledge to Owen.  Owens father was a dedicated instructor in the military and would stay back and work through problems with students who were struggling.  His father has flown no fewer than 102 types of aircraft in his career.

First Job

He could not find a job so he did an instructor rating and volunteered to instruct (Scout association) for a short period before obtaining a paid job providing dual instruction at the Royal Aero Club of NSW.  He was instructing on Piper Tomahawks, Cherokees and Cessna 152s for 12 months before he went instructing in the Kimberleys.  He enjoyed the challenge of instructing and teaching students.

What sort of jobs can a CPL holder to obtain?

How many hours in Dual instruction before getting a VFR Charter job?

800 hours when he went bush.

How did he get the job flying up North?

Word of Mouth – Owen received a call from a friend flying up in the Kimberleys.  He packed up his car and moved up north in a number of days.  His boss released him from his instructing job with short notice.

Aircraft Types flown (VFR Charter)

Cessna 172, 182, 205, 206, 207, 210, 310 and 337.

What sort of flying?

Scenic Flying – Bungle Bungle ranges

When flying the 310 he did a significant amount of charter flying (ie: flying miners).

The flying was extremely varied.

Experience gained in this job?

The job was good for establishing a Pilot in Command mentality.  He learnt to be somewhat resourceful (there was no GPS and the navigation was by map).

Tips For people trying to gain similar jobs

  • Stay in contact with other pilots/staff in the aviation industry
  • Read about the industry
  • Keep your theory subjects going (ie: Instrument and ATPL)

Ways to build hours

  • Get a job is the primary tool (instruction or other)
  • Cost sharing for flights
  • Getting exposure by flying advanced types (other peoples planes)

Transition to the Airlines

Owen moved back to the city and took a number of jobs including further instructing roles, ferry work, delivering aircraft, freight runs and license issues and renewals.  Owen completed ground training on two aircraft for a Regional Airline including the Metro 2 and Metro 23 but did not get to fly either aircraft.  Owen received and accepted a job offer as a First Officer on an Ansett 737 after he finished the ground training for the Metro 23.

Ansett 737

Training with Ansett

Owen had 4000 hours before he started ground and simulator training to become type qualified in the Boeing 737 with Ansett.  A part of this training was conducting circuit training at Avalon Airport where engine failures were practiced.  Owen noted that this type of training is not common anymore.

B737 Flight Deck

The upper age limit that a pilot could join an airline was 27 years of age at that time.

First flight as an Airline Pilot

Owen’s first sector was Canberra to Sydney and he noted that his first flight was very busy.

Ansett’s Culture

Owen found Ansett to be a wonderful place to work and noted that there was a very good relationship between staff.

The airline flying business did change over time as different airspace was introduced and speed restrictions were increased below 10,000 feet.

He noted that Ansett had a great safety culture.

Stand out moment at Ansett

Ansett decked out a Boeing 737 in an all first class configuration for a National Rugby League team charter flight.

Ansett’s Collapse

Owen recalls his experiences leading up to collapse of Ansett including explaining how he was not informed of the collapse of the airline until he arrived at the terminal for a flight and was not able to enter.

Ground Instruction

Owen immediately took a ground instruction role at Bankstown Airport after the collapse in the interim until he could gain another role with another airline.

Airline Job

Owen obtained another position within another airline within a few months of Ansett’s Collapse.

Owen Flying the 747 as a second officer.

Owen was impressed by the performance of the 747.

Owen explains seniority

Owen explains the impact of being an airline pilot on your lifestyle.

He notes that its different for regional, domestic and international pilots.

Benefits of an Airline career

Owen notes that the view from his office changes every day.

Owen enjoys the challenges and friendships gained through his airline career.

Owen said there is a lot of variation even on the same route.

Final Advice for those pursuing a career in aviation

Owen notes he is not an authority for this information but recommends:

-Persisting despite the ups and downs

– Keep your theory ahead of your flying lessons

Owen as an author

Owen started writing for aviation magazines after the Ansett Collapse (he wrote his first paid article for Flightpath magazine).  He has written more than 500 articles and has a passion for it.

Owens Published Books

Amazon Links to Owens Books

The Pilots Blog

B& W Tiger Moth

Thanks so much to Owen for providing his time for this interview.

He can be contacted via his blog.


50 Tales of Flight: From Biplanes to Boeings

You will be moved as the magic of flight reaches beyond the cockpit to stir the senses and the heart….

In “50 Tales of Flight”, the reader is more than merely taken aloft. The flight deck door has been cracked ajar and the canvas cover pulled back from vintage biplane in a book that is built from the ground up. From the alarm clock buzzing to begin the airline pilot’s day to the sound of silence when a light aircraft engine fails and all that lies beneath are trees and cliffs.

There are moments of tension and others of humorous relief to be found among this collection of stories from the author’s thirty years aloft. Interspersed are tales of other aviators too. Veterans of wars now passed and some who lost their lives pursuing their passion.

There are images of the sights and people contained within the words. In some ways this book tracks an aviation life, but in others it offers insights and inspiration; just as the sky itself does. For anyone interested in aviation, or just intrigued by this seemingly removed field of endeavour, there is much to be seen through these “50 Tales of Flight”.

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