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Home About Me Flying Career
Flying Career PDF Print E-mail
Written by Arthur D Piercy   
Saturday, 11 July 2009 17:53

Flying Career

As long as I can remember, my greatest ambition in life was to fly an aircraft. The final event that convinced me that I wanted to be a pilot was in 1971 when dad took me to an air show at the old Baragwaneth airport just outside of Johannesburg. There I saw the Mirage F1 perform an air display that made the hairs on my neck and arms stand up with excitement. That day I promised myself I would fly that aircraft, even if it was the last thing I would ever achieve.

In January 1977, I started my two years of compulsory national service. Naturally I had already applied for pilots training course but it was only in June of the same year that I was sent for the necessary aptitude and medical tests.

There were six weeks of testing as there were over 450 applicants that year. In August I was invited to attend a selection board and in September 1977, I was one of 45 young and keen trainee pilots who reported for flight training at CFS Dunnottar. I was one step closer to my ambition of flying that Mirage F1.

After six weeks of ground training I was fiHarvard 7203 first solonally allowed near an aircraft. My first hurdle - a Harvard. Now I know why there is so much emphasis placed on co-ordination. Just starting the old lady was an achievement on its own. 

Your left hand is pumping fuel – the right hand is priming the aircraft – the foot is depressing the start button and your knees are keeping the stick out of the way.

A whole 16 flying hours later and I was finally ready for my first solo. What a DAY!! Now I see Harvard 7203 has also been retired.

In March 1978 I finished the initial training on the old Harvard and it was now time to progress onto the "big boys" – IMPALA MKI. We were all posted to FTS Langebaanweg on the West Coast for the advance phase of pilots’ course - Total flying 119 hrs.

IWings Parade did my first jet sortie 1 month after my 19th birthday. MIRAGEs, here I come!

In December 1978 I had the privilege to stand in front of the Chief of the Air Force - Genl Bob Rogers - and receive my wings. Total flying 224 hrs.

Next was officer's orientation course. In those years officers course was completed after flying training. Nowadays it is done before flying training.

After Officers Course I was posted back to FTS Langebaanweg as a station pilot while waiting for an opportunity to go on an Impala Operational Training Course (OTC). Total flying 300 hrs

impsolo1.jpg (25609 bytes)In June 1979 I was posted to AFB Pietersburg for Impala OTC. Here I converted to the Impala Mk II which is the single seater operational version of the Mk I. Six months and 88 hrs flying later I was operationally qualified. Wingman only. Total flying 388 hrs

I was then posted to 5 Squadron AFB Durban. Here I spent 4 years during which I completed Flight leaders course, Photo Reconnaissance Course and numerous operational tours in South West Africa (Namibia). Total flying 988 hrs

In July 1983 I took another step closer to my goal. I was posted back to AFB Pietersburg for Mirage course. Here I had the privilege to fly the Mirage III DZ, D2Z and the single seater Mirage III EZ. It was 75 hours of high speed magic. Maximum speed flown Mach 2.1 or on the day 2125 kph. Total flying 1064 hrs

p17.gif (47344 bytes)In January 1984, 13 years after that air show at Baragwaneth and 7 years after joining the Air force I was finally there. Standing next to that Mirage F1CZ in the hanger was like a dream. All the determination and hard work has finally paid off.

Just the conversion course left.

On the 6th February 1984 my dream became a reality. At 10:45, I got airborne in Mirage 214 for my first flight in a Mirage F1. I flew 22 hours that month. What an experience.

I had 3 wonderful years at 3 Squadron and I enjoyed every minute of it. Not many people can claim that they are excited to go to work every day. I could! Total flying 1455 hrs

Little did I know that it would be the aircraft of my dreams that would change my life so dramatically.

I did a total of 47 combat sorties.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 06:50


Extracts from a testimonial recieved from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA)

"I would like to thank Arthur Piercy for inspiring us. We need to always have driven and positive human beings like him, who don't constantly dwell on the ills of the past but on the possibilties of the future" (Zola)

"To me the important points that he made were that one's life is very important and it is that indiviual's responsibility to take care of it no matter what; and that determination can conquerany obstacle" (David)

"I was humbled by his humility, determination and passion for life. Nothing can and will stand in his way and I admire it about him. He just opened my eyes to the fact that if you want to you can, all you need is determination" (Ntombi) 

"Indeed your response to a life changing circumstance certainly places you in a special class, somewhere above the rest of us. But your incredible sense of humour, your humaness - those form the bridge that allows ordinary human beings to rub shoulders with you and face their own, smaller situations, encouraged. Thank you for that." Nadia Coetzee : Director: Foreign Qualifications Evaluation and Advisory Services.

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