Lt Gen. Denis Earp To be Patron of the Spitfire Restoration Project
LT. GEN. DENIS EARP, retired Chief of the South African Air Force, has agreed to represent the South African Air Force Museum Spitfire Restoration Project, as its Patron.
Gen Earp, a Korean War Veteran, began his career in the South African Air Force, as a young pilot, training on Spitfires. Whilst in Korea, in 1951, during a mission, Gen Earp was forced to bail out and was taken as a prisoner. For the next 23 months, he served as a Prisoner of War.
Gen Earp served in various roles within the South African Air Force, including Flying Instructor, and after converting to helicopters, became the Officer Commanding 17 Squadron. Gen Earp has flown a variety of aircraft, including Canberras, and Mirage IIIs.
He is the recipient of many decorations, including international awards, these include the Star of South Africa (SSA), Southern Cross Decoration (SD), Southern Cross Medal (SM), The South African Police Star for Outstanding Service (SOE), the Korean Medal, the Korean War Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal for Korea, The Order of Military Merit (Korea) with Silver Star, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster (USA), Order of Cloud Leaf and Banner (Taiwan) with Grand Cordon (ORB), the Gran Cruz Al Merito Aeronautico (Chile) and the Al Merito Militar (Paraguay).
Gen Earp later served as Chief of the South African Air Force from 1984, until his retirement in 1988.
Since Gen Earp’s retirement, he has maintained close contact with the South African Air Force and in particular with the South African Air Force Museum, and the Friends of the South African Air Force Museum. Gen Earp is passionate about the preservation of the South African Air Force heritage for future generations. Gen Earp also serves as Patron of the Friends of the South African Air Force Museum.
The Pretoria Branch of the Friends of the South African Air Force Museum has embarked on an ambitious project, to restore the Museum’s Supermarine Spitfire Mk IXe. The Spitfire 5518 (TE213) was extensively damaged during a forced landing on 20th April 2000. The airframe was then placed in storage, where it remained until 2015. The Pretoria Branch of the Friends of the South African Air Force Museum has commenced the restoration of the Spitfire. The disassembly and evaluation of the Spitfire have already started.
Gen Earp has agreed to represent the Spitfire Restoration Project, as the Project’s Patron.
Photographs, courtesy InCamera, SAAFM and Lt Dave Knoesen