TIKLI KESSLER

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jimdavis
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TIKLI KESSLER

Unread post by jimdavis » Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:01 pm

I just got this PM. The guy wants a bed-time story. How could I refuse?

Hi Jim.

Do you by any chance remember or know of an old german guy that used to fly his private aircraft on the border in the late seventies early eighties. As a troopie from 80 to 82 I was told about this old guy that had AK 47s bolted to his wings that would go out on his own to try and find terrs. Not sure if my memory is all that sharp on the events. I was told that he was shot down and was killed. Was this just a fable.

If not please post a short story on avcom.

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Freddie

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It's absolutely true. Tickly and I were big mates and drinking buddies at Ondangwa where we were defending our countries against naughty Communists. I used to call him Vilber Smiss who was his favourite author. Tickle was a serious individualist. He felt the SAAF was not doing enough killing, so he fitted two AKs to the wings of his 235 Cherokee. He also fitted a grenade-launcher in the floor. It was simply a grenade-sized tube with a pin through it. You would make very sure the pin was in position, near the bottom of the tube, and then take half a dozen hand-granades, pull their pins and slide them down the tube, which was just big enough to prevent the handle springing out. When you spotted some vile enemy people you would fly at them and fill them with hot lead from the AKs, or fly over their habitat and pull the pin from the bottom of the tube, allowing grenades to fall on them and spoil their day. He was extremely successful in his one-man mission against Castro and his mob.

Excuse my frivolous tone, but I LOVED to border. We had no responsibilities, free food and housing, wonderful aeroplanes to play with, and exceptionally cheap booze. Also the SAAF paid me well, plus they refuelled my private aeroplane for free, so I was making a fortune out of instructing civvies, in between SAAF missions. What more could you ask? I wasn't one of these deep thinkers who worried about the rights and wrongs of the war.

Anyhow Tickly was my boozing mate. We caused our own Troopies to shoot at us one night when we returned late from drinking in Ondangwa and decided to head round the perry-track to 140 Squadron to do some more drinking. The Troopie at the gate had decided that we should rather be reporting to some Army brass and we ignored them and put foot in the Landie on our own mission. The bastards shot shot one back tyre out in their efforts to restore a bit of discipline to the proceedings. Actually it made no real difference. We didn't notice it until the next day because the alcohol, combined with the deep sand made the Landie pretty wobbly in any case.

This may all sound a bit wild-west, but that is how life was, on the border, in those days. Tickle was a living legend to the extent that many folks think this was all too wild to be true. Not so. Ask any SAAF guy who spent a bit of time on the border. Not only did we help each other with alcohol consumption, I also had the misfortune to fly with the bugger. I say misfortune because he was a terrible pilot. his handling skills were well below average, his self image as a pilot was way above average, and he had no concept of checks and procedures. Not only did I have to do his SAAF flight-test, but I also had to prepare him, and a whole bunch of other Commando pilots, for their tests. SAAF Standards were unbelievably high, compared with civvi flying, and Tickly didn't get near what was expected of him, but I have to admit that I let him slip under the rope - simply because of who he was. Had I pulled his SAAF rating he would have carried on flying illegally - besides he was my mate - what could I do?

Sadly, he eventually killed himself. He suffered an engine failure, landed far too fast and the aircraft went on it's back. Whether the accident would have killed him, I don't know, but being inverted caused the grenades to slide out of their tube, so the whole lot went up in a massive bang.

RIP my mate Tickly (Vilber Smiss)
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by GL » Fri Apr 10, 2015 9:57 pm

:lol: :lol:
And we wonder why the Namibians are nervous about a whole bunch of civvies in Barons or Cirri descending on them?
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by jimdavis » Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:29 pm

GL wrote::lol: :lol:
And we wonder why the Namibians are nervous about a whole bunch of civvies in Barons or Cirri descending on them?
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: You certainly have a point, that Gleitch. Zay don't vont Vilber Smiss on their case again :lol: :lol:

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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by ddevos » Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:54 pm

Uncle Jim, maybe you can confirm, but another story I heard of him while I was at Ondangwa was that CAA (DCA in those days) refused to register his Cherokee while being painted in army brown, so he painted a bright yellow line down the sides and got his registration. Looked rather weird seeing a Cherokee in that colour scheme taxiing past us, stopping at the holding point, him then hopping out and cocking the AKs before taking off. Each AK47 had two magazines stuck together, which meant he sometimes had to land somewhere to turn the magazines around before taking off again. We were also told that he got the Cherokee somewhere in Angola. How true that is I have no idea...
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by Christo » Sat Apr 11, 2015 6:22 am

This story was posted just yesterday on the SAAF Museum facebook page.
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by ColdFingers » Sat Apr 11, 2015 6:26 am

My eldest brother met him a few times while working in Tsumeb in the 70''s.

This was posted on the SAAF Museum Facebook page yesterday. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid ... =1&theater
Today Brothers and Sisters, we once again stand to attention, remove headdress and pause to remember Major Helmuth Adolf (Tikli) Kessler from 1 South West Africa Air Commando Squadron who was Killed in Action on 10 April 1982 during Operation Yahoo while flying in support of Koevoet anti-insurgent operations in the Elundu area. His PA28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder aircraft, Registration ZS-EXT suffered engine failure (Bent Valve) while assisting Koevoet in a follow-up operation and he had to carry out a forced landing in a mahangu field. Unfortunately, the aircraft undercarriage dug into the furrows and the aircraft flipped over. A primed hand grenade that Major Kessler had placed in the launching tube fell back into the cockpit area when the aircraft flipped over and exploded, killing him instantly. He was 37.
Tikli Kessler.jpg
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by Wildcat_003 » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:57 am

Jip ...what a character. We used to sit on cockpit standby when he would taxy in front of us and jump out to cock the AK's. Give a wave and be off on his own mission.
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by CRO » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:59 am

Met him at Rundu in '81. As Jim says he did enjoy a spot or two
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by jimdavis » Sat Apr 11, 2015 8:01 am

I didn't know the engine "failure" was simply a bent valve. If that's all it was he could easily have flown home on 5 cylinders.

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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by jimdavis » Sat Apr 11, 2015 8:18 am

MODS do you mind altering the heading to reflect the correct spelling? It should read TIKLI KESSLER. Thanks so much and have a brilliant weekend.

Jim
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by Jan » Sat Apr 11, 2015 8:21 am

Wow!
I have told his story to so many people and you could sometimes see the disbelief in their eyes. In those years I was the Senior Technician in Luderitz and Tikli's son Gert, was one of our technicians and a good friend. So obviously we heard many stories from Gert and I have also met Tikli a number of occasions. I can vividly remember his wild moustache and also standing at the Cherokee at the Luderitz airfield, looking at all the grenade pins stuck where the windscreen met the glareshied. Unfortunately I do not have any photos.

What I do know is that he practiced his skills using 44 gal drums as targets on is farm. Uncle Jim reckons he was not a good pilot, but through our young eyes he was an absolute HERO! It was during those times that I decided to start flying. Maybe partly due to "rubbing shoulders" with this great man.

I also remember the sad day when Gert got the bad news of his accident. I also seem to remember that a sergeant who was with him lived and might have died later on due to burn wounds received - not sure of this however.

I also remember us going to the Turnhalle to do the traditional "auf eine letzte prost" where you all take a schnapps and the glass of Tikly was left untouched on the bar counter.

His son Gert also later learned to fly and is still working and living in Luderitz.
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by Jan » Sat Apr 11, 2015 8:25 am

In the article above his age is stated as 37 at the time of his death. Should have been in his fifties then.
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Re: TICKLY KESLER

Unread post by jimdavis » Sat Apr 11, 2015 8:47 am

Jan wrote:In the article above his age is stated as 37 at the time of his death. Should have been in his fifties then.
I am sure you are right, Jan, he was a lot older than 37. At a guess I would say mid 50s

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Re: TIKLI KESSLER

Unread post by flysouth » Sat Apr 11, 2015 12:14 pm

This is the same guy I met at Grand Central one fine day when I was hauling my airie out of the hangar!

He came over and we got chatting about airplanes and he told me about AKs on the wings etc. I was rather sceptical and he looked and behaved a bit like a wild man, so I did not argue!

So it was all true then, what he said - amazing!
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Re: TIKLI KESSLER

Unread post by AndyF1 » Sat Apr 11, 2015 1:14 pm

him and my father and brother were great mates...........Sean Sheedie (spelling?) SAAF, Yamie Pretorius SAAF Doc, and the crew holding up the La Cave bar many a night.........that was after they closed the Eros pub

yes was in his 50's and still quite a bit his family here.......what a wonderful memory of those days..........

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