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From the Spitfire Cockpit to the Cabinet Office – the memoirs of Air Commodore J F “Johnny” Langer

Air Commodore J F “Johnny” Langer CBE AFC DL
This memoir spans the military and civilian career of Air Commodore J F “Johnny” Langer CBE AFC DL. It begins with a brief recollection of his pre-Second World War schooldays, and ends with his retirement from aviation security consultancies. Across such a span of decades, it is refreshingly brief, concentrating on the broad sweep of his life, rather than daily minutiae. That said, there is some of that for those who find the social history that these memoirs represent.

In that broad sweep, it spans flying training, going to India to train on gliders in advance of plans to use them to assault Japanese positions, back to the UK at war’s end. We then carry on through flying training, gaining a permanent commission, and on to Squadron Command. In later appointments (not necessarily in chronological order), he was OC Cadet Training at RAF Henlow, Chief Instructor of the Central Flying School, OC RAF Valley, and began a long involvement with the Republic of Singapore Air Force. His final stages of his RAF career were involved with the introduction of the hawk and Tornado into service.

At the end of his time with the RAF, in 1979, he became an aviation security consultant in Crown Service. From this role, he retired in 1987 but remained a consultant until 1994.

I found this an interesting read by the later parts of the book. The earlier years do set the scene and start to describe the sort of person he was to become, but I found that the pace of the book really began to step up when he was writing about things that he is passionate about, such as flying and the importance of good staff work. I think that the reader is rewarded for their perseverance in the later chapters. Overall, I enjoyed this book and it has a place on my bookshelf.

Pen & Sword Aviation, Barnsley, 2016. 288 pages including illustrations, appendices and epilogue.

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