Tiny office, great views

Ross IsaacsonNo, I’m not talking about another day at work although I could be 🙂 My guest on the blog today is debut author Ross Isaacson whose book, ‘TINY OFFICE, GREAT VEIWS’, was released earlier this year. For any aviation tragics in your family it’s the perfect Christmas present (hint, hint).  Ross takes a light-hearted look back at the 33 years he’s spent in Australian aviation, both in light aircraft operations and airlines. The book is full of photos, sketches and stories from his career.

Ross partnered up with Sid Harta Publishers so his experiences are a little different from my publishing journey. He’s currently still juggling a ground aviation job as well as writing so I only managed to pin him down to answer a couple of questions in between shifts.

Here’s what he had to say about partnership publishing.

What made you put pen to paper and write your story?

I had been thinking for many years that I ought to write about my experiences, but never done anything positive about it. With the collapse of my last employer, and not having much chance of getting another job at the age of 66, I decided that I might as well give it a go.

I had no prior experience or training and had no idea how to go about it other than putting down a few points and expanding on them, then cutting and pasting to fit them into their appropriate chapters.  An acquaintance helped give some structure to the book, but in some ways that took my “style” out of it.  I eventually did my own thing as many people said, ‘It’s Your book, not his!’

A very close friend and ex school headmaster in Cairns was extremely helpful in checking grammar, and giving me a few helpful hints as well.

As a way of being able to concentrate, I ‘went bush’ for four separate weeks with just the laptop and my gorgeous little doggie.  I love being out bush.

I really enjoyed the writing and wish I could do more, but alas, at present I can’t. Like my flying career, I never ever thought or wanted to be a writer, and I suppose that this effort is really only recalling my memories.

Since then, I have started writing Book 2, a fiction murder/adventure story set in North Queensland. Being fiction, it was hard to start with as all my writing has been telling a story as accurately as possible – not stretching the truth and imagination!

I have written five chapters, but done nothing for the past four months because I’m too busy with the current book promotion and the airport job.

It’s always so hard finding the time to write… sigh…

What sparked your interest in aviation?

Nothing really.  I was not interested in it until I went for a glider ride.  Even then, I really didn’t have any urge to go commercial flying. Even while I was learning the power flying, it still didn’t give me any ‘rush’.  I just somehow finished up being there ! Mind you, I was sick to death of my wife and fruit growing and, since I had the qualifications, I thought “bugger it, why not”

Hmm, sounds like your title could have been ‘The Accidental Aviator…’ You’ve certainly seen lots of variety in your flying. Did one job stand out from the rest as your favourite aviation job?

I think probably the days of Southern Pacific Regional Airlines, while I was based in Brisbane.  It was a company where you were treated with respect, it felt like you were part of a family, and you really did want to go to work because it was more fun than staying home.

We did RPT schedules up and down the Qld coast in opposition to Sunstate, (now Qantaslink), there was great camaraderie, we had pride in our work and network, we really enjoyed the people we were working with and the company that employed us, we were flying very pleasant aeroplanes, and, we even got paid for it !  What more could you want ?

I know that feeling, Ross. I was part of Sunstate (before we morphed into QL) and loved that same ‘family company’ feel.

What was the publishing process you followed with Sid Harta.

I saw an ad in the Qld writers magazine for Sid Harta,  sent an email and Kerry phoned me about 20 mins later.  He was in Melbourne and I was about to go down there to celebrate my daughter’s fortieth birthday with my son and his wife from Sydney. While I was down there, I visited him and got the story, so decided to continue with him. Kerry’s been very supportive.

I submitted the manuscript, it was assessed  and I was offered a contract. Once I paid the upfront money, it went from there.  The text editor was extremely quick and very helpful, but the graphics editor was extremely slow and unhelpful…  I submitted the manuscript I Oct 2009 and it has taken 13 months to get to print from there.  Slow and painful…

LOL, I think everyone finds publishing’s painful which must make all writers a touch masochistic… Thanks for sparing the time for my questions, Ross. I’m sure TINY OFFICE, GREAT VIEWS will fly off the shelf (pun intended…) and hope you find the time to push on with your next story.

Here’s a photo from my archives of a stunning day flying home to Cairns from Horn Island 🙂


A view out my window approaching Cairns from the north.


16 thoughts on “Tiny office, great views

  1. You two are hysterical!

    Merry Christmas to you both – I’ve really appreciated your support on the blog this year. Hope you both have a lovely Christmas and New Year 🙂

  2. Hi Cathy,

    The Thor movie is another in the ‘Marvel’ comics series – like Iron Man. Thor is played by Chris Hemsworth and the love interest is Natalie Portman. This is along the same lines as Iron Man in that it’s been modernised to fit this era. The trailer looks pretty good.

    LOL – OK, took me a second to get the last line, now I’m blushing and laughing at the same time. 🙂

  3. Sandy, is the “Thor” movie based on the old (DC) I think comic of the same name?, and who is playing Thor?

    Reminds me of the old story. Thor comes down to earth, finds this gorgeous blonde, spend the night with her, and in the morning, decides to tell her who he is.

    “Darling, I’m Thor”
    ” Tho an I, but wathent it nithe” 🙂

  4. Right, well, I’m getting ‘the look’ from KC that says ‘Are we going for a walk? Huh? Huh?’ Nag, nag, nag…

    Off I go.

  5. Too funny, Sandy! And yes, you’d think Zeus would be a little more composed in light of his name. Up until a couple of years ago, when we went on holidays and left him at home with a house-sitter, he didn’t even flinch in the wildest storms. Not sure what went on but these days he’s beside himself…

    Will definitely keep an eye out for Thor – just tracked down a trailer for it 🙂

  6. Speaking of thunder gods, the new movie Thor looks like it could be entertaining.

    I think your Zeus needs to connect with his name on a more elemental level, poor muffin. 🙂

  7. I go to work for the day and you guys are having fun without me 🙂

    Cathy, thank you! I survived another sim session and came home in need of a laugh and there was your Christmas poem and chook story. Love them! And your Hyde Park adventure.

    And yep, you’ve had many more adventures than your average airline pilot so you should be writing them down.

    Sandy, where does DH come in the Alpha male status?? Your Cavs are gorgeous. Zeus sends his regards. Apparently he’s currently hiding under the bed because the thunder gods are about…

  8. Yeah, some of them can be a bit neurotic, like their owners. Our last dog was a blue healer and these ones don’t get treated any differently – except we don’t do the twice a day 10k walk anymore. Thank goodness as I’m way past that! 🙂 They do get cossetted, but they’re also expected to behave. Rule 1 – I am the Alpha. Rule 2 – refer rule 1.

  9. Cavaliers are about the one dog breed I actually LIKE, Sandy. Mind you, I don’t think Maggie does. In the early 90’s we were in London, in Hyde Park. Maggie wanted a photo of s squirrel. She gpot a nice close up shot set up, then along came this Cavalier, barking loudly and scared it off, she nearly airlifted into the Serpentine!

    I persauded her theat “Australian Tourist In Old Baily for Animal Cruelty” was not the best wasy to start a tour of the UK, but it was a close call

  10. Helene, you have to talk Cathy into scribing a few stories into a book! Chooks in the cabin! Hee, hee. Hey I’ve got an idea, my hd and Cathy can tell you stories and you can collate them! 🙂 Yeah, yeah, I know, no time.

    Cathy, loved the ‘Night Before Christmas’, thanks for sharing.

    Ross, I’m only married to an aviation tragic, what I want to know is what sort of dog do you have? We have a couple of black and tan Cavaliers. Grand little beasts they are. 🙂

  11. Catherine Bridget Howat
    The Night Before Christmas

    ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and out on the ramp,
    Not an airplane was stirring, not even a Champ.
    The aircraft were fastened to tiedowns with care,
    …In hopes that come morning, they all would be there.

    The fuel trucks were nestled, all snug in their spots,
    With gusts from two-forty at 39 knots.
    I slumped at the fuel desk, now finally caught up,
    And settled down comfortably, resting my butt.

    When the radio lit up with noise and with chatter,
    I turned up the scanner to see what was the matter.
    A voice clearly heard over static and snow,
    Called for clearance to land at the airport below.

    He barked his transmission so lively and quick,
    I’d have sworn that the call sign he used was “St. Nick”.
    I ran to the panel to turn up the lights,
    The better to welcome this magical flight.

    He called his position, no room for denial,
    “St. Nicholas One, turnin’ left onto final.”
    And what to my wondering eyes should appear,
    But a Rutan-built sleigh, with eight Rotax Reindeer!

    With vectors to final, down the glideslope he came,
    As he passed all fixes, he called them by name:
    “Now Ringo! Now Tolga! Now Trini and Bacun!
    On Comet! On Cupid! What pills was he takin’?

    While controllers were sittin’, and scratchin’ their head,
    They phoned to my office, and I heard it with dread,
    The message they left was both urgent and dour:
    “When Santa pulls in, have him please call the tower.”

    He landed like silk, with the sled runners sparking,
    Then I heard “Left at Charlie,” and “Taxi to parking.”
    He slowed to a taxi, turned off of three-oh
    And stopped on the ramp with a “Ho, ho-ho-ho…”

    He stepped out of the sleigh, but before he could talk,
    I ran out to meet him with my best set of chocks.
    His red helmet and goggles were covered with frost
    And his beard was all blackened from Reindeer exhaust.

    His breath smelled like peppermint, gone slightly stale,
    And he puffed on a pipe, but he didn’t inhale.
    His cheeks were all rosy and jiggled like jelly,
    His boots were as black as a cropduster’s belly.

    He was chubby and plump, in his suit of bright red,
    And he asked me to “fill it, with hundred low-lead.”
    He came dashing in from the snow-covered pump,
    I knew he was anxious for drainin’ the sump.

    I spoke not a word, but went straight to my work,
    And I filled up the sleigh, but I spilled like a jerk.
    He came out of the restroom, and sighed in relief,
    Then he picked up a phone for a Flight Service brief.

    And I thought as he silently scribed in his log,
    These reindeer could land in an eighth-mile fog.
    He completed his pre-flight, from the front to the rear,
    Then he put on his headset, and I heard him yell, “Clear!”

    And laying a finger on his push-to-talk,
    He called up the tower for clearance and squawk.”
    Take taxiway Charlie, the southbound direction,
    Turn right three-two-zero at pilot’s discretion”

    He sped down the runway, the best of the best,
    “Your traffic’s a Grumman, inbound from the west.”
    Then I heard him proclaim, as he climbed thru the night,
    “Merry Christmas to all! I have traffic in sight.”

    Author Unknown.

  12. Is that a hint, Helene? 🙂

    Ever flown several hundred pissed off, raucous, smelly chooks, in an old C-46 from Jo’burg to Harare, in summer?. Plus we could not close the flight deck door on acount of it had fallen off a week before and would be fixed “whenever”

  13. Hi SN, glad you enjoyed it! Pilots like Ross who’ve been in the industry so long have amazing stories to tell. I wish more of them would put pen to paper…

  14. I’m certainly learning more about the aviation industry from this site than from all my years travelling put together!

    Great interview!

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