The TargetWe’ve all played the waiting game – that inevitable time period between putting that first word on our eagerly awaited book-to-be to the time it finally becomes published.J.R. Hauptman, author of The Target: Love, Death and Airline Deregulation, waited twenty years for his book to be published. He began the book about five years after he lost his job as an airline pilot during the turmoil of the early years of airline deregulation when a corporate raider took control of the airline, drove the company into bankruptcy and used that as a pretext to tear up their labor contracts. There was a great deal of loose talk at the time that it was a wonder that someone had not assassinated this person who was regarded at the time as “the most hated man in the industry.”

After J.R. decided to return to aviation when his new career as a securities broker went down in flames with the stock market crash in ’87, he was faced with the prospect of starting all over at the bottom of the flying business.

The question he asked himself was, “What would I do if I were in the mountains on my elk hunting stand and this individual happened to coincidentally walk out in front of me? Would impulse overcome rationality?”

Not knowing the answer, he wrote the first two chapters of his book and set out to find a writer’s agent. At that time, self-publishing was virtually unheard of and not surprising, his first thirty or so queries were met with total rejection.

“Some expressed shock that I would even consider writing a novel on this subject,” he says. “As we all know, getting past rejection is easier said than done and I devoted my energies to finding another airline job. I caught on with two charter outfits that promptly went bankrupt themselves. I landed a job with an airfreight outfit and settled into a steady routine that lasted for nearly twelve years. I had thought that I would be able to complete the book during that time, since being back in the flying business had presented me with much in potential material and possible story scenarios, but my progress was much too slow.”

Mandatory retirement from the airlines was followed by a job flying corporate jets and another excuse for the lack of J.R.’s writing discipline. The answer finally came from what he knew all to well – to be successful as an author, you must WRITE.

“Perhaps it is silly, but it is something we have to tell ourselves every day,” he says. “I had already come up with the final plot for the book when I was still flying airfreight but it remained for me to set goals: a total page count, a chapter outline, and a word goal for each chapter. Once organized, it was ‘only’ a matter of fleshing out the story. I say ‘only’ tongue-in-cheek because it still took two more years to finish, even once I had adopted a more disciplined approach. I was even able to add a denouement to bring the story into the present time and the first edition was published just before the deregulation of the securities and banking industries led to the total meltdown of our economy.

“It turned out that airline deregulation was only a harbinger of the bad times to come.”

J.R. Hauptman has been a professional pilot for nearly a half century. Barely twenty years old, he began as a military pilot and for almost two years he flew combat support missions in the Viet Nam War. Upon leaving military service he was hired by a major airline and was initially based on the West Coast. His flying career was interrupted by the turmoil that racked the airline industry during the early days of deregulation. In the interim, he worked as a travel agent, a stockbroker and even trained dogs and horses. In the late nineteen-eighties, he returned to aviation, flying jet charters and air freight. He concluded his career flying corporate jets and now lives in Florida. He is completing his second work, a non-fictional social commentary and surfs every day, waves or not. You can visit his website at

Be Sociable, Share!