Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to
That’s right, another flyboy. And another fighter ace just like our friend Pierce McKennon. Sailor Malan was a South African pilot with the Royal Air Force during World War II.
Malan began his military career as a teenager at the South African Merchant Navy Academy, which is where he got the nickname “Sailor.” But in his 20s he learned how to fly a plane, and shortly afterwards he enlisted in the RAF.
Throughout the war Malan and his Spitfire kicked some serious Luftwaffe ass. As part of 74 Squadron he provided air support during the evacuation at Dunkirk and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery. During the Battle of Britain, Malan led 74 Squadron to an unprecedented 38 downed enemy aircraft in just one day.
A fearless and unorthodox pilot, Malan compiled a list that he called “My Ten Rules for Air Fighting”—which may as well have been called “My Ten Rules for Pilot Badassery.”
- Wait until you see the whites of his eyes. Fire short bursts of one to two seconds only when your sights are definitely “ON.”
- Whilst shooting think of nothing else, brace the whole of your body: have both hands on the stick: concentrate on your ring sight.
- Always keep a sharp lookout. “Keep your finger out.”
- Height gives you the initiative.
- Always turn and face the attack.
- Make your decisions promptly. It is better to act quickly even though your tactics are not the best.
- Never fly straight and level for more than 30 seconds in the combat area.
- When diving to attack always leave a proportion of your formation above to act as a top guard.
- INITIATIVE, AGGRESSION, AIR DISCIPLINE, and TEAM WORK are words that MEAN something in Air Fighting.
- Go in quickly – Punch hard – Get out!
I believe I’m getting a touch of The Vapors just reading this. Is it hot in here or is it just him??
Malan retired from the RAF as a top fighter ace with 32 confirmed kills. He went home to South Africa and founded an anti-Apartheid group called the Torch Commandos, in order to “oppose the police state, abuse of state power, censorship, racism, the removal of the Coloured vote and other oppressive manifestations of the creeping fascism of the National Party regime.” The Torch Commandos were in existence for only a short time. But Malan remained an outspoken opponent of Apartheid government until his death in 1963.
If he had been any hotter he would have burst into flames.