Dick Lord passes on


The SAAF and wider aviation community has been saddened by the loss of Brigadier General Dick Lord who passed away on the evening of Wednesday 26 October, having been ill for some time.

Born in Johannesburg, Dick joined the Royal Navy in 1958 where he qualified as a fighter pilot. He flew Sea Venoms and Sea Vixens aboard the Royal Navy aircraft carriers Centaur, Victorious, Hermes and Ark Royal. Whilst serving in the Royal Navy, Lord did a two year exchange tour with the US Navy, flying A-4 Skyhawks and F-4 Phantoms out of San Diego, California. It was during this posting that he was forced to eject from an A-4 Skyhawk. Other tours of duty included that of Air Warfare Instructor, flying Hunters from the naval air stations at Lossiemouth and Brawdy.

After 12 years with the Royal Navy, Lord returned to South Africa in the early 1970’s and joined the SAAF (almost by accident) and flew Impalas, Sabres and the Mirage III. During the Border War, he commanded 1 Squadron, flying the Mirage F1AZ. He then ran airforce operations out of Oshakati and Windhoek in the then South West Africa. Lord was commander of the Air Force Command Post in Pretoria during the successful rescue of all 581 people from the ill-fated liner Oceanos in 1991.

A highlight of his career was organizing the successful flypast of 76 aircraft for Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as President of South Africa in 1994. Lord retired shortly thereafter as a Brigadier (now called Brigadier General) and moved to Somerset West near Cape Town.

Lord did not rest on his laurels and much to the delight of SAAF historians and enthusiasts, he authored many books on the South African Air Force. The first, Fire, Flood and Ice, covered SAAF rescue missions and was later reprinted as Standby!. The following book was the immensely popular Vlamgat, the story of the Mirage F1 in SAAF service. After repeated requests, Lord published his autobiography titled From Tailhooker to Mudmover. His fourth and final book, published in 2008, was Fledgling To Eagle which recounted the story of the South African Air Force during the Border War. All his books were to popular acclaim.