Long-time military aviation enthusiast Dean Wingrin’s first foray into book publishing has been welcomed by retired and serving members of the South African Air Force (SAAF).
“Tumult in the Clouds” is a compilation of personal memories of those who have served in the second oldest air force in the Commonwealth.
“The SAAF is not just about aircraft and ordnance; it is made up of people and my compilation gives voice to these people, be they airmen, ground crew or the backroom boys and girls. These are their stories, told in the first person as unvarnished, unabbreviated and intensely immediate and personal recollections,” he said at the public launch of Tumult in the Clouds during Saturday’s SAAF Museum flying training day at Air Force Base Swartkop.
Retired SAAF Chief Lieutenant General Dennis Earp said Wingrin deserved to be congratulated for his effort in producing a valuable addition to South African military aviation literature.
“I have often been told stories about the SAAF by people over a period of many years and I always urge them to write down their personal memories because, sadly, one day they will not be around to personally tell them,” said the man whose life has been put down on paper by long-time friend and retired SAAF Brigadier General “Crow” Stannard.
In its various guises the airborne arm of today’s South African National Defence Force assisted the Allied victory in World War Two, made a major contribution to the Berlin Airlift, took part in the Korean War, assisted the then Rhodesia in the 1960s and 70s and was a mainstay of the Bush War in Angola and what was South West Africa. Since democracy the SAAF has continuously supported peacekeeping missions in Africa and been part of countless search and rescue operations, the most recent of which is still underway in Mozambique.
What really prompted Wingrin to, as he puts it “get a move on with the project” was the death of one of his interviewees just days after he captured “Porky” Rich’s reminiscences on tape and paper.
“That was when I realised many of those who had stories to tell wouldn’t be around forever,” he said.
Publishing constraints have meant many of the recollections and tales he gathered could not be included in “Tumult”.
“This means I have a head start on Volume Two,” he said only half-jokingly at Saturday’s launch.
Another who has welcomed the book is SAAF Museum Officer Commanding Lieutenant Colonel Mike O’Connor.
“The Museum library and research section is now the proud owner of a copy of ‘Tumult’ and I’m sure it will find wide use, but only after I’ve finished reading it,” he said.
It can be purchased online from The Air Force Shop at www.saairforce.co.za