In Memoriam Harro Trempenau


(Posted 29th July 2013)

While in Kenya, and while in fact flying in and out of Wilson Airport, for long Harro’s stomping ground when he served as Chairman of the Aero Club of East Africa, sad news broke, first that my friend’s plane had gone missing and contact was lost, then that a wreckage had been spotted in the Aberdare Mountains and finally the confirmation that Harro, and two passengers with him in his light aircraft, had died in the crash.

I had known Harro for ages, as did everyone who knew anything about the general aviation sector in Kenya and across Eastern Africa, where Harro left a big mark.

As Chairman of the Aero Club with his passion for flying, his passion to serve the industry showed when he ably represented general aviation on official platforms as defender of the ‘free skies’ and of course his combative newsletters – much missed in fact since he retired a few years ago – left no doubt at all what he thought of regulators gone bonkers, prohibiting aviation instead of promoting it. After his retirement as Chair of the Aero Club he spent more time at the Orly airfield on the Kitengela plains, a general aviation facility and airfield he helped to set up, where he and his partners tried to make aviation user friendlier again as rules and regulations kept taking the fun out of flying from Wilson airport.

Harro had a big heart, was ever ready to step up for charitable organizations, to help, to assist and where needed to fly for a good cause: people, material, donations.

Much will be said about Harro elsewhere and I am not joining the band of speculators who are now busy figuring out the how and why of the crash.

I simply mourn the passing, the very untimely passing of a great friend who is now soaring in a different dimension, free of the regulatory constraints he fought for so long, when rightly he said that flying a Cessna on visual flight rules must never be treated by the regulators with the same templates like flying a commercial passenger jet.

I pay my respect to a fellow aviator who knew like few others how to capture the attention of those around him with his stories and one could never be quite sure, if those were flyboy yarn he used to pull the wool over our eyes or real events. The twinkle in his eyes for sure did not give away, what was real and what was made up, but no one did cary about that question. One night long ago in Arusha, where we led our respective private sector delegations, he from Kenya and I representing UAAO from Uganda, he thrilled us with some of his exploits and not one eye stayed dry, so much did we laugh, at a time when ROFLing had not even been invented. The bar stayed open at the New Arusha Hotel until long after official closing time and we all looked worse for wear at the session of the EAC the next morning when we bravely fought our battles for a more liberal general aviation regime, one which in the end we lost but it was not for the beers and shots that previous night, that much I can be sure of.

Tonight, I look back and realize I lost too many friends in the recent past, Harro the latest to change over into the great unknown. There, I hope, he is flying on silent wings into eternity. Roger that Harro, over and out.

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