Written by Arthur D Piercy
Monday, 13 July 2009 10:03
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This is my recollection of the events leading up to the accident.
It was approximately 1500B (local) on 27th September 1987 when all hell broke loose. There had been numerous call-outs previously which proved to be nothing at all, so when the "hot-line" started ringing there was very little reaction from us. However this time the call wasn't to go on cockpit standby like before, but rather a call to scramble immediately.
The letter I was writing went flying as I scrambled to get into the cockpit. In a matter of minutes we were screaming down the runway. I was lucky I was number two in the formation as it was about 45 deg C outside and the take-off was hair-raising. How numbers three, four, five and six got airborne I don't know.
After take-off we remained low level and set heading for the combat zone. It was our intention to remain low level for as long as possible to avoid being detected by the Angolan radars.
The order came to pitch about 10 minutes after take-off and up we soared like homesick angels. We levelled of at about 30 000' and the mission controller sounded like a horse racing commentator with all the instructions he was giving us to intercept the targets. Next came the order to jettison the drop tanks. This command was a little strange for me, because one never throws the tanks away in training so only when I saw a 1 200 litre tank falling away from the lead aircraft did I know this was no training sortie. It was serious. The adrenaline was flowing.
The next thing I saw was a Mig 23 flying through the formation about 300' below us. My first reaction was WOW what a great looking aircraft. This was the first time I had seen one in the flesh so to speak. When he started turning only then did I see the second Mig. I called the engagement and started turning. I was doing Mach 1.3 (about 1600 km per hour) and he was going like hell so the turn was so wide I almost lost sight of him.
This where I get a little frustrated. For 10 years I have trained for this day and the majority of the fight I cannot recall. WHY! Anyway the next thing I remember is this Mig coming head on at me from about my one, two o'clock position. Still turning towards him I remember flicking the trigger safety over to the cannon position. If he was going to fly through my sights I was going to squeeze off a few rounds. Unfortunately for me he got off the first shot.
There was a bright orange flash from his left wing and then this incredibly fast telephone pole came hurtling towards me trailing a solid white smoke trail. What more is that it was cork screwing so I was never sure where it was going.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 December 2011 23:11
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.