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Tales of An Old Aviator .... The Big Chill

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Tales of An Old Aviator .... The Big Chill

Old 11th Feb 2005, 19:16
  #281 (permalink)  
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I read every word that I could find of Duke's writing, and learned a great deal from it. He was a talented writer as well as a tremendously experienced pilot: in writing these honest, raw accounts of his flying adventures he has enabled many of us to feel the same wind on our cheeks that he felt. And a part of him lives on, in the memories he has passed on as gifts to thousands of us across the world. Duke, I salute you, and thank you, Sir, for your lessons. Fair weather!
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Old 12th Feb 2005, 00:52
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Copied from one of Les's early posts.

"A few lessons here...
Don't give up till you're licked.
Don't whine and trivialize when you haven't been there.
Lets keep our profession out of the gutter...we need each other.
I have another difficult mission ahead...and if I croak...I would like on my tombstone.....

Duke was an aviator that didn't give up, but in the end he was overwhelmed. He had indeed "been there" but didn't whine or trivialize. He remained a professional and was there for others.

He is now on that last difficult mission.

Farewell fellow aviator, may you rest in peace.

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Old 12th Feb 2005, 18:49
  #283 (permalink)  

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Sawmill Broad unfortunately I won't be able to be in Chilliwack for the memorial next Saturday but please know that at the time the celebration of Duke's life begins I will be raising a glass of fizzy wine to his memory
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Old 12th Feb 2005, 21:14
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the young at heart don't leave us

my thoughts will forever come back to you, Duke
once every while, when the time allows thought
about the being of aviators, the ones who seek the sky

Cruising through white rooms
momentary confining
in pure solitary flying
no earthbound connection
only peaceful reflection
in the white rooms
of flying

from heavenly surroundings
soaring the tranquil white seas
skimming immovable waves
opening before you
closing behind
leaving no trace
on these desolate oceans
forever moving
drifting in
indefinite metamorphosis

Duke, you have left a trace, a revisitable memory, a mark in the sky


Last edited by M. I. Icarus?; 12th Feb 2005 at 21:26.
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Old 14th Feb 2005, 06:40
  #285 (permalink)  

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Sawmill Broad

Please convey my heartfelt sorrow to Duke's family and friends who will be in attendance next Saturday and apologise for my non-attendance. I am very saddened at the passing of Les whom I met many years ago in Papua New Guinea (actually it does not seem that long ago really) but will most certainly have a few San Miguels for him on the day, here at the local Yacht Club.

Please see if it is possible to print his writings in book form and I for one will buy a few.

Sincerest condolences.

Peter Sharpe.
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Old 15th Feb 2005, 15:03
  #286 (permalink)  

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When our life is in it's final moments all the houses, boats, aeroplanes, cars we've owned and all the money we have made is put into true perspective...meaningless shit.

What is important is the true love we have shared and received and the life lessons we have passed on to our children....the deep friendships we have experienced...the joy of the human condition in all it's finest.

To have lived life honourably, loved and been loved in return is all that counts when you face those final moments on this earth.

Duke you lived well, loved well and died well....surrounded by thousands of people who loved and respected you.

I have this mental image of you sitting on a rock in a forest...all burnt out except the little bit of green surrounding you...getting a haircut from a beautiful angel.... Inspiration.

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Old 16th Feb 2005, 07:07
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Amen 'Chimbu',

To Duke's wife Kathy, and family, and many friends, including "Sawmill" for your lovely, simple, yet eloquent post,

Deepest Sympathy from 'a colleague in spirit'.
Never met, but will be oft remembered.
It was my pleasure to have known of you.

Ex FSO Griffo

Last edited by Ex FSO GRIFFO; 16th Feb 2005 at 08:28.
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Old 17th Feb 2005, 05:16
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Thank you Duke Elegant,

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Old 17th Feb 2005, 13:06
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Duke, Rest well. Rest as well as you lived.
You were a true insperation and it was a pleasure to know you and your stories. You fought the good fight and will be well remebered.
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Old 17th Feb 2005, 16:18
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Blue skies Duke. As well as being inspirational these were also damn good stories and must be one of the most enjoyed threads ever on PPRuNe.

I saw something written yesterday that made me think of Duke: "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming - Wow! what a ride!"

From Dukes stories I'd guess he enjoyed his ride. RIP.
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Old 17th Feb 2005, 20:16
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I used to look at the post count on this thread hoping that an increase would mean another of Duke's great tales. Now it's eulogies from his many admirers. This place is all the worse for his passing, yet better for having had him here in the first place.

I hope Danny and the team will do something to mark his passing.
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Old 28th Feb 2005, 21:11
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I'm trying, not altogether successfully, to think straight having browsed through sections of this massive thread, and I'm feeling so many different emotions that are all competing for attention.

First, great sadness at the passing of a man who has made a mark on the world by his life. He will be missed by many, and there will probably not be too many people who will be able to make a similar mark in the future.

Second, happiness for Duke, that he was able to maintain and show so clearly such a deep and clear zest for life throughout all of the trials he faced towards the end. You can call it whatever you will, courage, determination, commitment, the name doesn't really matter, what shines through is the strength of character that he possessed.

Third, respect for all that have been involved with this thread. I've been around here for a while, and this is one thread where there's been no controversy, abuse, name calling or any of the other things that are becoming too frequent elsewhere.

Fourth, relief that my own encounter with Big C was only a passing skirmish so far, and if what the medics and statistics are telling me is right, I might not see it again for a long time, if ever. And for anyone that's not looking forward to having a medico check his prostate for enlargement at the time of the medical, I shall always and for ever be very glad I did a class 1 instead of a class 2 when all I really needed was a medical for some recreational flying at the time. If I hadn't done the class 1, I might not have been here to write this, as there was nothing symptom wise to indicate that my prostate was in trouble. This all happened about the same time as this thread started. So far, it's not returned, and the signs are good that it might not.

I could probably add a lot more, but I'm not sure I totally trust my emotions at the moment, they've been well shaken and stirred over the last hour or so.

To all Duke's family, I hadn't even seen this thread till today, and I wish I'd seen it sooner, it's been an inspiration to me to just read how he met the challenge head on and at full speed.

His final departure will have left an unfillable void, which even time will be unable to fill adequately. You have my profound respect and sympathy for all you have dealt with. I know you have been left with many happy memories. Long may they provide the strength and support you need.
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Old 2nd Mar 2005, 11:56
  #293 (permalink)  
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It has been suggested that PPRuNe marks the passing of the 'Duke' with perhaps a suitable epitath. I think the Duke has written his own epitath, here in this thread, and much better than anyone else could possibly have done.

I have in recent times spoke to Danny about him and his eloquence in stirring our aviation blood. Everything he wrote was a pleasure to read and should be continued to be read. Danny was very keen indeed that people should read of the Duke's adventures and ask me to ensure that the thread stayed.

Now that he has left I suspect we will keep it here for a few weeks and then let it slip away. However I will, next February, re-activate the thread on the anniversary of the Duke's death for people to remind themselves of this larger than life aviator who has touched the lives of so many with his life and times and his daring do.

PPRuNe has been richer for his presence here and it will be again as long as we are able to do so.

Duke, RIP.
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Old 2nd Mar 2005, 16:14
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Does anyone know if somewhere someone is putting Duke's tales together for publication? Hopefully there are more stories which weren't even posted, and I know I want to reread his adventures on paper and give the book to friends.
I would be honored to have Duke's book grace my book shelves.
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Old 2nd Mar 2005, 21:48
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Duke developed quite a following on another web board, Flightinfo.com.

One of the members of that board compiled his posts and put them on her own website. If anyone would like to look at it, here is the link:

The Big Chill - Tales of an old aviator - Duke Elegant

Despite Flightinfo's tendency towards juvenile behavior, Duke has stirred a lot of emotion and a great following on that board.

His stories sum the dreams of aviation glory and adventure I had when I was young, but which I never quite achieved.

RIP Duke.
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Old 2nd Mar 2005, 23:16
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You sure you arent't Ernie Gann reincarnated. You certainly sound the same. Timeless voices my friend.
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 07:25
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Having only just come across this thread I'm saddened that the Duke has gone. Truly an inspiration and left this world a better place for his being here. His stories were amazing and I hope he is sat somewhere with a cold one and a mischievous smile on his face that I am sure he wore on more than one occasion in his colourful life.

A pleasure to have known you - if only through your writings. I will be raising a glass to you tonight.

I hope your family can find some comfort in the knowledge that you brought such joy to so many around the globe.

Cheers mate........
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Old 13th Apr 2005, 05:30
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Rest in peace, Les.
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Old 22nd Feb 2006, 02:36
  #299 (permalink)  
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I hope no-one thinks it is morbid to ping this thread back to the top.

A wee bit late but here's to the Duke.

I know that if reading his exploits gave as much pleasure to others as it did to me then he would have been a happy, and wonderfully egotistical, man.

Hope you're reincarnated Les, we need more like you.
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Old 22nd Feb 2006, 08:58
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Nope. You have only done that which I intended to do. But events rather overtook me and I am now shame faced that I forgot.

He was one of aviation's greats and I am pleased that we can remind us all of such truly great people like him.


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