Good show, Adjt !
Modesty often prevents us from mentioning a “good show”… As a passenger and witness of an aerial adventure more than 40 years hence, I can bring tribute to my then-time pilot. To Warrant-Officer Edgard Auspert I can once more say: “Good Show, Adjudant!”
On August 10, 1967 I had the pleasure to fly as a passenger in an SV-4 from Florennes to Bierset. At that time I was a young pilot with the 2nd Squadron and had been ordered to go and pick up an F-84F at Bierset. If my recollections are right, Warrant-Officer “Toto” Laporte, who was the responsible Duty Ops for that week, had managed through his good contacts at Goetsenhoven Elementary Flying School, specifically with Edgard Auspert, to fly me to Bierset in a SV-4. Apparently it was easier to get an SV-4 than to find a Renault R4 with driver in the Maintenance squadron… But Toto made it clear this was not going to be a smooth flight…”I know Edgard. He wouldn’t mind taking you there flying upside-down!” “As a matter of fact,” he added,” he is in a hurry and will pick you up at noon at the squadron. You just jump in, engine running, and off you go. Got it?” Ay-ay, Sir.
At the given hour I climb into the SV. A quick polite salute to the pilot and I take place in the rear seat. Not an easy job because my back-chute doesn’t fit, since the SV has been designed, if I recollect well, to hold an Irving-chute. I barely get the time to belt-up and already we are taking off on the parallel runway, heading for Bierset. Next small problem: as I am about to make radio contact, I discover that the radio jack attached to my helmet does not fit the SV plug. This is going to be an entire flight on radio silence. It doesn’t seem to bother my pilot. We cross the Meuse river at a height of some 3 to 400 feet. A few moments later I feel a little shock and some unusual sound coming from the engine. I remember Toto’s words and suppose our W/O had switched over to “integral” and that we are about to continue the flight on the back. Instead the plane brutally pulls up, makes a 180° turn and starts descending engine idle. Things are going really fast. I hardly get what is happening. Auspert turns to me making signs to firmly strap up. A moment later, the aircraft goes into a side slip.
There’s no doubt now, we’re off for a landing in a small meadow straight ahead of us. In the back, at the edge of a forest, I see a scout camp. The pilot makes a three point landing right behind the enclosure surrounding the meadow. The SV-4 comes to a stop after some fifty meters with the engine cut. I still have no clue as to what has happened. I jump out of the plane. Even before the pilot has freed himself from his harness, I’m standing next to him with the big question: “Well Adjudant, what is going on?” He replies: “Didn’t you notice we lost our propeller?” I look at the nose of the plane and suddenly I realize what has happened in the last five minutes: W/0 Edgard Auspert just made a perfect engine out forced landing in the middle of a valley in Faulx-les-Tombes!
V29 after the landing (remark the revers painted flag on the tail)
The warrant-officer descends from the cockpit. I never had met him before. What a giant! With a friendly tap on the back : “You won’t make it to Bierset today…” The children with their scout leaders – actually they turn out to be guides and cubs – come rushing on. Some time later the pilot tells his hosts over a cup of coffee what has happened. We were some one hundred meters above the Courričre forest, when our propeller just left the engine… Edgard immediately transformed his speed into height, what brought us to an altitude of some 800 feet to start our descent and to look for a suitable landing spot. After a 180° turn, he discovered a small meadow. Starting his landing manoeuvre, Edgard suddenly realized there was a scouts camp that “set up bivouac on a terrain…reserved for us”. As I recover from my emotions I keep praising him: “Goods show, Adjudant, good show…”
At 3 p.m. are roads separated. Warrant-Officer Auspert went back to Goetsenhoven and I was taken to my unit by Warrant-Officer Laporte himself. (It turns out he has some friends in the nearby Gesves area, one Willy Laloux…).The day after a local newspaper runs a short and friendly article giving an account of the adventure of warrant-officer Auspert, accompanied by private M. Mandl… A week later, I received a nice letter from a friendly lady who took some pictures of the plane. The legend reads: “Wishing you just as much of luck in the future”.
As my career developed, I often have thought back to these words.
Some times later the prop was found in a forrest nearby.
Letter and photos sended by a friendly lady Article published in Wings n° 16/17
Last year I told this story to my friend Danny Cabooter, who is a member of the board of directors of the Vieilles Tiges and the workhorse of the Stampe Museum at Deurne. Showing him the pictures, he was quite surprised: the plane is no other than the V-29 which he has been restoring in the Deurne museum! What a coincidence. Thus 40 years later, thanks to its kind owner, Edgard Auspert and myself, we have been able to fly the V-29 once again.