1 John Edmond | ENCORE... we’ll tell you more July 2018.

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John Edmond Newsletter

ENCORE... we’ll tell you more July 2018.


Dear Friends, Rhodies and Countrymen,

Somewhere someplace you have all had a romance with flying, so once again a reminder of our aviation show on 14th July…..See the website or poster for details.

Our May newsletter “Mayday! Mayday!” was on aviation, spitfires, fixed wings and more, but then we started receiving some mail from the “blade guys” saying they feel a little left out so here goes. You were never left out!  “THE GUNSHIP CALYSO” from Troopiesongs was dedicated to all the helicopter pilots- This song of John Edmond’s is about the Alouette helicopter that was extensively used by the Rhodesian forces and was a great contributor to the success rates against terrorist incursions In this song the lyrics say “We are sailors of a kind, we sail across the sky; sails are made from chopper blade and the rotor takes us high”.

Before we go any further let’s go into the history and how the helicopter evolved. The thirteenth century English philosopher Roger Bacon predicted that a flying machine would one day be perfected by man which it was when the Wright brothers made their first flight in the USA. Dec 17th, 1903

The first twin-rotor helicopter was designed by a Mr Focke from Germany and had its first flight on June 26th, 1936. However, the first practical helicopter, so named because it was derived from the Greek word “helix” meaning twist and Pteron meaning wing, was designed by a Russian born American, Igor Sikorsky and first flew on Sept 14th, 1939 at Stratford in Connecticut for a few seconds. But on May 13th, 1940 Sikorsky piloted the first long flight.

Helicopters then evolved and with the advent of the second world war (1939-1944), The Germans used the Focke-Wulf helicopter for observation and casevacs. Only later in the war did the allies use the helicopter – in fact, the Sikorsky R4 – mainly for search and rescue. Allied Bombing of German aircraft factories prevented further production of German machines.

Other helicopter companies sprang up in the USA like Bell Aircraft and although the USA was the leader in helicopter production, Europe was not far behind. In the 1950’s the French firm Sud Aviation (later Aerospatiale) developed the Alouette 2 and 3 light helicopters with turbine engines and started deliveries in 1961.

The complete International story of helicopter development is long and intricate with different models, companies and countries involved. But let’s get back to the Alouettes they were used by the military around the world as assault transport and gunships. Alouettes meaning ” skylark” were used by South Africa, Rhodesia and many other countries and that’s what John’s song is about. They were used by Rhodesia for combat, transport and casevacs. During his stints in Rhodesia, John flew to many op areas in Alouettes.

The descendant of the Alouette was the Gazelle which was used in conflicts around the world by many air forces. Many years later John and Teresa’s son John Ross became a professional flyer of fixed wing and helicopters  and a crowning glory was flying a Gazelle,

Talk about keeping the tradition going!!

Keeping our music flying hi!

See you at hangar no 5 Zwartkop Aerodrome.

The Roan Antelope Team