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As a young teenager Winston Brent would spend many moments viewing the Venturas, Dakotas, Skymasters and Harvards as they passed directly overhead the family farm between East London and Port Elizabeth. He started to record the serials of the aircraft passing overhead by using the family telescope.
His passion for aircraft and flying never declined and when he was unable to pursue his wish to fly, he switched to recording serials and studying the various aircraft in Southern Africa. In 1987 he published his first book/booklet (46 pages), “Rhodesian Air Force 1947-80, A Brief History”. This sold so well he had to have it reprinted. His introduction in title No 9, “Rhodesian Air Force – The Sanctions Busters” says it all.
In 1994 he published his next title “African Military Aviation”, in A5 format, 288 pages. It is also sold out and it is still regarded as a reference book on military aircraft in Africa.
He believed he had found a niche market.
In 1995, the first of the present African Aviation Series, No 1, “AT-6 Harvard” was published. It was followed by No 2, “Eagles of Zwartkop”, No 3 “Canberra in Southern Africa service”, No 4, “Eye in the Sky”, No 5, “African Air Forces”, No 6, “Chopper Pilot”, No 7, “Passion for Flight”, No 8, “2 Sqd in Korea 1950-53”, No 9 “Rhodesian Air Force – The Sanctions Busters”, No 10, “Serve to Save”. From one title a year he had moved to three in 2001.
He found he had others who shared his passion and were prepared to record their experiences, like Brig-Gen Monster Wilkins in “Chopper Pilot”, Maj-Gen Tom Cockbain who wrote “Sweeping Circles in the Sky”.
He has in various stages of preparation from various authors a few more titles, including a definitive account of SAAF Fighter Operations in WW2, covering 5 volumes from East Africa to Europe. These volumes will contain a comprehensive listing of the names of pilots, their ranks, awards, service and fates during WW2.
One thread that flows through all these titles, is that they are all based on fact, they are historical and cover a niche of South African history for posterity.
In his introduction to No 9, “Rhodesian Air Force – The Sanction Busters”, Winston relates how difficult it is/was to obtain correct data relating to their “imports”.
In No 10, “Serve to Save”, Guy Ellis, a former Cape Town resident, has also shared his passion by recording the history of an area of the Service that has been neglected and that played an important role in the rescue of pilots, aircrew, sailors and passengers off the South African coast from 1940 onwards.