Vlamgat: The Story of the Mirage F1 in the South African Air Force

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30° South Publishers, Oct 1, 2008 - History - 316 pages
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"Their hands are shaking ever so slightly. They will be flying again in the morning" Vlamgat, literally 'flaming hole' in Afrikaans, was the nickname the South African Air Force (SAAF) gave to the Mirage F1, its formidable frontline jet fighter during South Africa's long 'border wars' in South West Africa (Namibia) and Angola from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. Battling Soviet MiG-21s over African skies, the Vlammies, the Mirage pilots as they were affectionately known, acquitted themselves with distinction and honour. Vlamgat is a gripping account of these pilots and their deeds of bravery; their experiences are authentically related with accuracy, humour and pathos—by the author, himself a Vlammie. As Willem Hechter, former Chief of the SAAF, says: "Vlamgat deserves a place of pride in the long history of this, the second oldest air force in the world." Brigadier-General Dick Lord joined the Royal Navy as an air cadet in 1958, where he qualified as a fighter pilot. Flying Sea Venoms and Sea Vixens, he served on board the aircraft carriers Centaur, Victorious, Hermes and Ark Royal on cruises around the world. In the mid '60s, he was selected for a two-year exchange tour with the US Navy, flying A4 Skyhawks and F4 Phantoms out of San Diego, California. He completed tours of air warfare instruction, flying Hunters out of the naval air stations at Lossiemouth, Scotland and Brawdy, Wales. He returned to South Africa in early '70s and joined the South African Air Force (SAAF), flying Impalas, Sabres and Mirage IIIs. During the Border War, he commanded 1 Squadron, flying Mirage F1AZs into Angola, followed by running air force operations out of Oshikati, Windhoek and SAAF Headquarters in Pretoria. A highlight of his career was organizing the successful fly-past of 76 aircraft for Nelson Mandela's inauguration as President of South Africa in 1994.
  

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Contents

They are flying again in the morning
15
19691974 Acquisition of a legend
24
1975 Return to South Africa
33
1976 13 Squadron
42
1977 Laying foundations
51
1978 Border war escalation
60
1979 The rising storm
67
1980 Nearing boiling point
80
19891991 Return to peace
214
19921994 Hanging on a thread
224
19951997 End of an era
237
Glossary
246
A day on the flight line
258
The Billy Boys song
262
Commanding officers
264
Technical and Intelligence officers
265

1981 The pot boils over
102
1982 Stoking the fire
127
1983 Paradigm shift
144
1984 An uneasy peace
151
1985 Internationalization of the conflict
158
1986 The lull before the storm
171
1987 All hell breaks loose
178
1988 Stalemate
194
19891992 Beginning of the end3 Squadron
205
Mirage F1 pilots and potted biographies
267
Honours and awards
292
One of our aircraft is missingSAAF aircraft and crew losses to enemy action during the bush war
294
Mirage F1 losses
304
V3 airtoair missiles
307
Bibliography
308
Index
309
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Brigadier-General DICK LORDwas born in Johannesburg where he grew up. He joined the Royal Navy as an air cadet in 1958, where he qualified as a fighter pilot. Flying Sea Venoms and Sea Vixens, he served on board the aircraft carriers Centaur, Victorious, Hermes and Ark Royal on cruises around the world. In the mid rsquo;60s, he was selected for a two-year exchange tour with the US Navy, flying A4 Skyhawks and F4 Phantoms out of San Diego, California. He completed tours of air warfare instruction, flying Hunters out of the naval air stations at Lossiemouth, Scotland and Brawdy, Wales.He returned to South Africa in early rsquo;70s and joined the South African Air Force (SAAF), flying Impalas, Sabres and Mirage IIIs. During the Border War, he commanded 1 Squadron, flying Mirage F1AZs into Angola, followed by running air force operations out of Oshikati, Windhoek and SAAF Headquarters in Pretoria. He was mentioned in dispatches for his role in the remarkable rescue of all 581 people from the ill-fated liner Oceanos. A highlight of his career was organizing the successful fly-past of 76 aircraft for Nelson Mandelarsquo;s inauguration as President of South Africa in 1994.He retired to Somerset West near Cape Town with his wife June. He is also author of Fire, Flood and Ice (to be republished in 2011 as Standby!), his first book, which chronicles some of the SAAFrsquo;s spectacular search and rescue operations; Vlamgat-The Story of the Mirage F1 in the South African Air Force and his latest best-seller, From Fledgling to Eagle-The South African Air Force during the Border War, released in late 2008.

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