|Gunship Ace, the wars of Neall Ellis, Helicopter Pilot and mercenary
EU: incl. tax € 25.95
|Author||:||Al. J. Venter|
|Availability||:||only 3 remaining|
This product was added to our database on Tuesday 15 May 2012.
Former South African Air Force pilot who saw action from the 1970s onwards, Neall Ellis is the best known mercenary combat aviator alive.
Apart from flying Alouette helicopter gunships in Angola, he has fought in the Balkan War (for Islamic forces), tried to resuscitate Mobutu Sese Seko's ailing air force in the final days of his rule in the Congo, flew Mi-8s for Executive Outcomes, and thereafter, an Mi-8 fondly dubbed 'Bokkie' for Colonel Tim Spicer in Sierra Leone and finally, with a pair of ageing Mi-24s, Ellis ran the Air Wing out of Aberdeen Barracks in the war against Foday Sankoh's RUF rebels.
Twice, he single-handed (without a co-pilot) turned the enemy back from the gates of Freetown and prevented them from overrunning the capital, once in the middle of the night without night vision goggles. Nellis (as his friends call him) was also the first mercenary that worked hand-in-glove with British ground and air assets in a guerrilla war in modern times (if you discount British SAS efforts led by Colonel Jim Johnson using French mercs - including Bob Denard - to successfully harass Egyptian forces in Yemen in the 1960s by laying mines, setting ambushes and destroying their aircraft on nighttime raids on their airfields in the remote desert interior).
In Sierra Leone, Ellis' Mi-24 'Hind' ('it leaked when it rained') played a seminal role in rescuing the 11 British soldiers who had been taken hostage by the so-called West Side Boys in Sierra Leone: his chopper ferried in a contingent of SAS troops in the initial stages of the battle with the South African involved in much of the initial planning for the simple reason that no other pilot knew this West African country as well as he does. He also used his helicopter - numerous times - to fly SAS personnel on low-level reconnaissance missions into the interior of this diamond-rich country on which the Leonard diCaprio's film Blood Diamond was subsequently based.
As Al Venter tells it in an earlier book published recently in the United States and Britain, War Dog, flying with Nellis was a tough, risky affair.
There were moments, he explains, 'such as when we hovered over enemy positions or towns under their occupation, places where we'd been told by the British military contingent under whose auspices Nellis operated - that there were significant numbers of anti-aircraft weapons. While most of it was old Soviet stock, recent events in Afghanistan demonstrated that some of this hardware is a match for anything fielded by the West.'
Such occasions, reckons Venter' marvelously exercises both the imagination and the sphincter muscle.
'Occasionally we returned to base with holes in our fuselage, though once it was self-inflicted: in his enthusiasm during an attack on one of the towns in the interior, our portside side gunner swung his heavy machinegun a bit too wide and hit one of our drop tanks. Had it been full at the time, things might have been different,' Venter recounts.
The upshot was that the two helicopters operated for the Sierra Leone Air Wing by Nellis and his boys had probably been patched more often than any other comparable pair of gunships in Asia, Africa or Latin America.
While hostilities in Sierra Leone lasted, Nellis had a price on his head: some reports spoke of a $1 million reward dead or alive, others double that.
This new work will deal with all of Neall Ellis adventures that spanned three decades. It is of interest that he was never wounded once, though on one sortie along the Angolan border in the 1980s, he dodged three SAM-7s fired in succession at his Alouette.