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SMAC104 Owen Zupp, Inspirational Aviator from Down Under

Pre-Flight Checklist:

Jabiru and RAAF FA-18Carl, Sean, and Victoria are here with our special guest Owen Zupp from Australia! Owen loves to fly for the airlines and is also passionate about General Aviation. Thank you to Plane Crazy Down Under for hooking up Carl and Owen.

Cruise Flight:

  • Owen's parents both served in the Australian Air Force, introducing him to aviation at a young age.
  • Owen did a trip around Australia in a small single engine aircraft and wrote a book about it called Solo Flight. The trip was supposed to be with his Dad, who passed away before they could make it happen.
  • Owen's Dad did almost all of his flight instruction.
  • Owen's Dad grew up in the Depression and served as an Army Commando in WWII. He then served as a mechanic in the Australian Air Force and then served as a fighter pilot in the Korean War. He had over 200 certifications and over 23,000 hours in his log book. He flew Gloucester Meteors, but his favorite fighter was the P-51 Mustang. Owen is working on a book about his father's life.
  • The airplane he chose was a Jabiru, which is Australian designed and built, and is very accessible to non-aviation people because it is smaller and cost about the same amount as a car. It made the flight very accessible to the school children that he saw during his trip.
  • Planning the trip took a lot of work such as planning where he could refuel, physical fatigue, media commitments, and safety concerns.
  • Owen also said that the solo flying was great for reflecting on the beauty of the country and the flying itself.
  • Owen said he loves airline flying because it is the safe execution of a task, but GA flying is just flying for the joy of seeing things. It's kind of like the difference between piloting a cruise ship vs. sailing a yacht.
  • Early in his career Owen flew Outback and scenic flying in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
  • Carl and Owen agreed that flying helps clear the mind  and helps people learn to think and be well rounded in life in general.
  • Sean asked about differences between Australia and US GA flying. Owen said in the US much of the country is covered by radar that identifies and tracks planes, where Australia has vast tracks outside of major cities that do not have radar coverage. GPS helps with finding planes, but it can still take awhile if a plane gets lost.
  • Owen also said many airfields in Australia have auxiliary fees like landing fees which make it more expensive, and the FBO's are very different such as having many unmanned terminals. Some terminals don't even have bathrooms or they keep them locked up.
  • Australia is a prime location for General Aviation due to good weather, low hills, and vast expanses, but the population is so low that traffic through many airfields simply does not justify the upkeep and the low demand keeps supply expenses high.
  • Owen talked about some of the amazing things he saw on his flight such as beautiful coastal land, followed by desert 2 hours later. He also said he crossed the Spencer Gulf, which is known for huge sharks.
  • Owen stayed in "Shearing Sheds," which are the sheds ranchers use to shear sheep so he could meet people.
  • During his flight, Owen flew to raise money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, an organization that flies around the Outback rescuing people and providing doctors and nurses to very remote areas.
  • Carl asked what a visiting GA pilot would need to do in order to fly in Australia. Owen said to contact the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to see what requirements are needed to convert your local license to an Australian license, then do a flight check before going up.
  • Owen has written many other books. His book Down to Earth is the story of a WWII fighter pilot from the RAF from Dunkirk to D-Day, and one of the only pilots from his class still alive at the end of the war.
  • Owen said he once flew through a colony of bats, doing damage to his airplane.
  • Owen has also written 50 Tales of Flight and 50 More Tales of Flight, which are collections of articles he has had published over the years.
  • Owen also writes a blog called The Pilot's Blog, which is as much for aviation and travel enthusiasts as it is for experienced pilots.

After Landing Checklist:

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