On Wednesday the 5th of December EAA Chapter 322 hosted General Des Barker during their monthly chapter gathering at the Dickie Fritz MOTH Hall. Gen Barker shared his lifelong passion for fighter jets with us and presented on the history of the famous Cheetah, a South African derivative of the French Mirage aircraft. The presentation included some fascinating facts, stories, some laughter in between and covered the Cheetah story right from the development phase all the way through to the emotional day when the Cheetah was retired from Service.
After forty-years of devoted service to the South African National Defence Force, particularly the South African Air Force he retired in 2008. Maj Gen Barker commenced his career in the SAAF in 1968. He qualified as a fighter pilot, with a passion for a broad spectrum of aviation - an asset which is quite apparent with his interest in flying safety and broad knowledge of aircraft and aviation related topics.
Among numerous highlights during his professional career, as a qualified fixed wing experimental test pilot, he was appointed Officer Commanding of TFDC in 1996, assigned as Air Advisor to the South African High Commission in the UK in 2000. He was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General and appointed Officer Commanding of AFB Makhado in January 2004. After this tour, in June 2006, he was promoted to the rank of Maj Gen and appointed Chief Director Force Preparation at the Air Command, a position that he held until his retirement from the Air Force at the end of May 2008 after a career of 40 years of dedication and service towards a cause that he showed he so firmly believed in himself.
General Barker has become a legend and world authority on aircraft accidents, especially during airshows. He is in demand internationally as an authoritative speaker on this and other safety related subjects.
If you have not been as privileged as us to attend General Barker's presentation on “Cheetahs in SAAF Service - a Test Pilot's Perspective”, make sure you invite him over to your next club event. It is truly a proud South African story and it will be an evening you will never forget.