First Solo. 41 Years On.


First Solo Logbook Zupp
First Solo – an event that few aviators ever forget.

Through planning or good fortune, I have generally flown on the anniversary of that first flight. On the 25th anniversary, I organised to fly a light aircraft in Queensland where I was on holidays. 40 years on, and unaware of the date, I flew an S&P check in a Diamond DA40 at RAAF Richmond. This year, 41 years had me earthbound with my eyes still skyward.

Teasingly, our home lies under busy commercial flight paths, albeit with the aircraft at altitude. Lower down, light aircraft criss-cross the sky as the Toll helicopter makes regular sorties to and from the local hospital. All the while, I walk laps as part of my recovery, with my neck routinely craned to the sky.

As a boy, I would clamber up a rickety paling fence, step across to our water tank before levering myself atop our shed. There I would sit on the ridge cap with my dad’s binoculars, focusing on aircraft large and small – every moment I was foolishly wishing my life away so that I may be seated in the cockpit rather than on a sloping tiled roof. I have been fortunate that in the intervening years, aviation has shown me its many faces – high and low and across the globe.

As I contemplate the future, there are days where I brace myself for the possibility of not flying again. However, it is only a passing thought and usually results in me pushing even harder with my recovery. All the while, my eyes are cast skywards and my ears tuned for the sound of a prop or turbine.

Pink Floyd once used the phrase “earthbound misfit” in one of their songs. Perhaps they were describing folks like me.

Solo Flight by Owen Zupp