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Books for the Holidays

December 11, 2017

Wings Over Langebaanweg

The summer holidays are a good time to relax, put your feet up, and get your mind away from computers and life’s demands by reading a book. Andrew Embleton’s ‘Wings Over Langebaanweg’ immerses you in the captivating lives and history of SAAF combat pilots.




This is the third collection of memoirs, compiled by Andrew, of SAAF pilots. His first two books, Facta Nostra Vivent, and Going Around Again were an informal history of life at Dunnottar, flying the iconic Harvards, from WW2 through to their retirement in the ‘90s.

His latest compilation, with the assistance of Major General Des Barker – a legendary SAAF fast jet pilot in his own right – takes us to Langebaanweg Air Force Base in the Cape, where the Spitfire pilots and then the Jet Jocks, owned the skies.

Covering the base’s history from 1946 to 1993, it invites you into the world of Advanced Operational Courses, first dealing with the Spitfire crews’ preparations for Korea, through to the Vampire years, and then the long period of Aermacchi Atlas Impala operations, which ended in 1993.

Wings Over Langebaanweg retains the wonderful story-telling tone of Andrew’s first two books, with over 100 stories written by pupils, instructors, combat pilots, and others. Thus, the book deals with the memories of advanced flight training, the support staff, the messes, the on-base hospital, the bioscope hall, the sports fields – the whole community. These memoirs have been recorded as they were written or told. Some are serious, some funny and some sad, but all provide a personal insight into life on the base, covering almost every aspect of Langebaanweg during those times.

History, with its facts and dates, often loses the human element and emotions. But Wings Over Langebaanweg, with its photos and anecdotes, is an unofficial record of Langebaanweg’s history, that has at its core the people and their experiences, transporting the reader into the life of a SAAF combat pilot. Those who served at the base will no doubt have nostalgic ‘flashbacks’ of their time there.

Wings Over Langebaanweg is available as a signed, numbered Collectors’ Edition in a glossy hardcover for R530, or as an unsigned soft cover, directly from Andrew Embleton. Contact Andrew at Jim Davis Flying in Africa

Jim Davis is a legend in the South African aviation scene – both as a flight instructor and author. His flying career spans over half a century, and is, as readers of this mag well know, full of captivating tales. For your Christmas pleasure he has released not one, but two, books in which he regales us with stories as if we were drinking a pint with him in our local flying club.


In addition to being the doyen of flight training in South Africa, with encyclopaedic knowledge and insight that can only come from decades of passionate instruction, Jim is a fantastic storyteller. Because of his informative, yet light-hearted conversational writing, his instructional book, ‘PPL – A Practical Book About Flying’, has become a must-read for anyone doing their PPL, or who wants to refresh their flying knowledge.

He is one of our oldest contributors. His latest two offerings, ‘Flying in Africa’ Vol. 1 and 2, are a delightfully entertaining series of true (but perhaps just a little artistically embellished) stories about the colourful people and a whole variety of aeroplanes that made flying in Africa a unique and wonderful privilege. He flew during the heyday of aviation, when flying was far less regulated and pilots flew simply for the joy of flight – and got up to all kinds of mischief.

Jim takes us along on his first flying days, as a navigator in the Royal Air Force, to being taught to fly a Piper Cub by ex-air force pilots at Wonderboom, and being part of Placo’s early days, working – and being fired numerous times – for Piet van der Woude, who started the company by bringing a shipload of superfluous WW2 Piper Cubs into South Africa. From there, he tells us about buying his first plane, becoming an instructor and starting his own flying school. The stories are as much about flying as the characters Jim met along the way.

There are many hair-raising adventures, described in the masterful story-telling matter-of-fact way that is unique to Jim. Some stories are so unbelievable, they can only be true. With plenty of humour, and a lot to be learned for anyone remotely interested in flying, Jim’s Flying in Africa tales are guaranteed to amuse, shock and delight you.



Flying in Africa, Vol. 1 and 2, are only available on Kindle through for just US$15.60 for the pair. For more information, visit


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