The hottest spot in the Waikato winter is right here at our house. We are fizzing with energy, having taken delivery of “Iggy’s Air Force Tales”.
“Iggy’s Air Force Tales” started life as “Some of these stories are based on fact” – a great title, which says it all really, but which wasn’t Google friendly.
With both of us working from home, we have morning tea together. Each day Iggy told me another story, which I transcribed, typed up and edited. Having served for three decades in the RNZAF, Iggy could tell stories which spanned the Vampire, Harvard, Devon, Strikemaster, Skyhawk and Macchi. Even though (or because?) I grew up in a family where the men were (and are) fanatical about flying, I thought that collecting stories about aeroplanes would be terminally dull. However, Iggy is an engaging raconteur, and his phenomenal memory (and extraordinary ability to embellish the ordinary) meant the stories were more about the thrills and challenges of the people who flew than the bits of metal they flew in. We flew close to a range of emotions along the way.
Iggy started off with the stories he loved best – those that made us laugh. Boys really will be boys, to the extent that one of our proof readers commented “Boys are weird”. You’ll know what I mean if you read the story of Iggy doing a low pass over a frigate, of which his friend was captain.
We then tackled some of the more serious aviation topics – and I ruthlessly removed any stories that you needed post graduate qualifications in aerodynamics to be understood. We left in some of Iggy’s aeronautical explanations though. He was a qualified and respected instructor, after all – and this book is chiefly for pilots or people who ever dreamed of flying.
Finally, we tackled the tough stuff. We huffed and puffed our way through a story of betrayal. We cried our way through the story of the fatal accident of a close friend.
When we had a couple of hundred stories, we spread them out all over the floor and put them in some kind of sequence. I then put them into a book format. But something was missing.
Iggy spent a couple of days at the RNZAF Museum in Christchurch where Matthew O’Sullivan, Keeper of Photographs, did an amazing job of finding images to match and illustrate particular stories. These were the days of wet film, and quite major events (such as a survival camp avalanche which took four lives) were simply not recorded photographically, it seems. John Bates’ memorabilia and personal collection of photographs provided the finishing touches. “Iggy’s Air Force Tales” had come to life.
What we were not prepared for was the wild ride generated by even a small amount of publicity. Today’s massive thrill was taking an order for 15 copies – and we haven’t even officially launched yet! In addition, catching up with so many awesome people from our past has been a magical trip in a time machine.
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