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Glen Warden – Tribute to an Aviation Legend

As Glen Warden landed at what was to be his final aerobatics competition on Saturday, the conversation amongst the media photographers alongside the runway immediately went to what an absolute gentleman and all-round good guy he was. Little did we know that within an hour tragedy would strike. Glen took to the skies just after 11:00 in his Slick 360 and during his known sequence, he impacted the ground after what appeared to be a high-speed stall. Sadly the impact proved to be fatal.

I first had the honour to first meet Glen at AFB Ondangwa in the late ’80s while doing my national service, he was a fighter pilot at 2 Squadron at the time. Glen had spent time in South America on a pilot exchange programme where he learned to speak Portuguese fluently, a skill that the SAAF was making use of. He was deployed as an interpreter in the negotiations of “Operation Agree” and the implementation of "Resolution 435" which led to the end of the Angolan Bush War.

In the '90s I started frequenting airshows and never put two and two together that the young officer I had met years ago was the one and only “Gringo”, the Mirage III “Black Widow” display pilot. I bumped into him in the crowd line at one of the airshows and to my surprise, he greeted me by name, such was the calibre of the man. After that chance meeting, I made a point of looking him up at every airshow or SAAF Museum flying day I attended, he always had time for a chat.

Glen was the leader of the Goodyear Eagles aerobatic team and over the years treated us to some amazing displays in the Cheetah C, Mirage III CZ, North American T-2 Buckeye, Aero L-29 Delfín, Aero L-39 Albatros, T6 Harvard, Slick 360 and Boeing 737’s

On 14 August 2011 tragedy befell the airshow family in South Africa when the two Piaggio P.166 Albatross aircraft crashed on their return from Tzaneen Airshow taking thirteen souls with them. Glen’s wife Louise was one of the deceased. Through this time Glen was a pillar of strength for the other bereaved families that lost loved ones despite his own personal loss.

Five years ago when I decided to start Flightline Weekly, as fate would have it, I bumped into Glen one morning at a shopping centre in Pretoria while dropping my daughter off at work. This became a regular occurrence as he would be leaving the gym at about the same time as I arrived. Our meetings progressed from having a chat as we passed to having coffee at Woolworths almost every morning. At this time his encouragement was one of the contributing factors to my perusing my dream of building the magazine. At this time Glen was going through a very difficult time himself medically and he wasn’t sure if he would regain his flying medical, fortunately, as is his nature he overcame this.

When Glen left the SAAF he started work as a pilot at Comair, the management was quick to identify his talent and tenacity and he made his way up the ladder at pace. Captain Warden’s talent at imparting knowledge was identified and he became Comair’s Chief Training Pilot and was later promoted to Manager Commercial Flight Operations a position he held until his untimely death.

Glen Warden was more than just an aviation legend he was an absolute gentleman, a great friend and all-round wonderful human being. He will be sorely missed by the entire aviation community and everyone that had the pleasure to meet him. Form all of us here at Flightline Weekly our sincere condolences to all his family, friends and colleagues. Rest in Peace good sir and thank you for all you have meant to me personally and what you have done for our beloved industry over the years.

Fly high Gringo

One More Roll

​We toast our hearty comrades who have fallen from the skies, and were gently caught by God's own hand to be with him on High.

To dwell among the soaring clouds they've known so well before. From victory roll to tail chase, at heaven's very door.

As we fly among them there, we're sure to head their plea. To take care, my friend, watch your six, and do one more roll for me.

— Commander Jerry Coffee



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