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.

21 Responses

  1. Mzee Harro was pleasant to chat with. He cared to lend an ear to anyone who had an interest in aviation. I am a banker by proffession but an adent aviation enthusiats. I pulled Harro aside after one of his jump in one of the many airshows he organised while he was still the Chairman of the E. A Aeroclub, a fete no one has matched so far, and i asked him about his experiece in skydiving..he gave me audience for close to 20 minutes explaining everything that goes on.

    Another day i called him to enquire about the Mombasa Boggie, a 2 weeks skydiving event held annually at Diani beach Mombasa. He was on roaming services, which means he was being charged, but nonetheless he chatted with me for over 5 mins and we don’t know each other that much, but he explained to me all about the event and even promised me a tandem jump once if i make it to the Boggie but i never followed up.

    More recently i had someone close to me and him organised my visit to his home last year when he was recuperating from injuries sustained in a crash landing he made in Kilifi. Once again something came up and i never honored the lunch meeting set up.

    I feel a great loss on my behalf. I thank Mzee for the gift of Green Eagles a specialised paratroopers Kenya Army battallion that he helped to form and train, the E.A Aeroclub, the Orly Airfield, the Mombasa Boggies. All these are gifts he has left for us. He has demistified aviation amonst the natives and its because of him an ordinary Kenyan like i can dare dream and become an aviator without going abroad and at an affordable rate.
    RIP Mzee. May you fly with angels now and forever

  2. His visionary altitude saw the existence of Aviation Centre, Aeroclub, which now handles over a 100 aircrafts for members of the club and still growing. In here he conducted interviews for the Centre and I proudly got lucky enough to picked by Mr Harro to be one but not only, to serve at the Aviation Centre.
    This is where his numerous flights from Wilson were despatched and I have grown in the industry being one of my most admired boss and a professional pilot.
    The man was aggressive,big hearted,understanding….the list is endless.
    It was with great shock that I received Mr Harro’s death and will take ages to really accept it.
    I still can’t imagine when we communicated through text in his final moment.
    He said his ETA NW and I replied that I will be waiting. He replied “you don’t have to wait…..”. Now it had dawned on me the true meaning of the words.
    I’ll profoundly miss him
    May God rest his soul in eternal peace

  3. Fly with the Angels Mr. Trempenau… it was always a pleasure meeting with you even though I was always dropping off a payment for something or the other for Orly …

  4. Rest In Peace Harro. Glad we met during my first and very memorable skydive :)..

  5. Harro Trempenau was a great man. He trained the Kenya Army Green Eagles fron 1992. He previously trained German and Canadian free fall Paratroopers including International Teams. He settled in Nakuru and offered to train the Eagles. the offer was accepted and he went on to graduate many jumpers including others in civil aviation at Wison, Mombasa and Malindi. He organized for jumps during my brothers James and Jerome wedding ceremonies. He was my good friend and best friend of my bro Johnny who was a member of first Green Eagles team trained in UK by Red Devils. They jumped together a lot and trained many Students. Harro was our family friend. He was among the most qualified jumpers in the world.
    Harro had great passion for Aviation. He unfortunately died doing what he loved. He once told me that he preferred jumping more than flying! His contribution to Aviation Safety as Chairman Aero Club will always be remembered.
    May Almighty Lord rest his soul in eternal Peace

  6. I had the opportunity of working closely with Harro when the Orly air park project was in the planning stages.I supervised the construction of the largest Hangar for Aslam Khan of ALS and represented Aslam at various meetings.The worst meeting we ever held was when the new District Commissioner for Kajiado South,which hived from the old Kajiado district,along with the full security committee summoned the Directors of Orly to explain the goings on at the place to assess any potential misuse of the facility by any undesirable characters which may pose security risks.Harrow in his unique way was able to lay all the official documents on the table and when we all sat for the nice lunch he had organised the informal discussions took place in a very cordial atmosphere.
    Only early in July after the safari rally,I together with my son and grandchildren decided to pass by Orly and we found Harro riding his quad bike,a virtually new and a really big machine. We chatted for nearly 30 minutes and looked at his old C206 which was almost ready after a major rebuilding after the incident he went through at the Coast.It was just waiting for the paint work to commence.He was no doubt a wonderful guy with a mind and eyes demanding perfection on any work undertaken on the new hangars.Orly without him will not be the same again.His death is certainly a great loss to all private aircraft owners in Kenya. and the many friends he had.RIP Harro.

  7. We were very shocked, hearing the sad news of the fatal accident of Harro. We knew each other allready a long time since the Malindi Boogie and met so many times afterwards. For us : skydive Kenia was Harro Trempenau. And it was allways a pleasure to have contact at the IPC meeting.
    We also want to send our condoleaces to his family.

    Harro RIP. You are now eternally in the sky.

    Hanneke and Igor van Aperen

  8. We were very shocked, hearing the sad news of Harro’s fatal accident. We knew each other allread longtimes since we joined the Malindi Boogie and had contact during several other occasions . It was also a pleasure to meet each other at the IPC- congresses.
    For us was Sky Dive Kenya simmilar to Harro Trempenau. We ‘ll miss his interest and enthousiasm when we happened to pass by.
    By these, we also send our condoleances to his whole family.
    Harro RIP, we wish you are now in the blue sky for ever.

    Hanneke and Igor van Aperen

  9. RIP Harro
    First met Harro skydiving in 1971 – St.Andre PQ and Gananoque ON. Great Guy.
    FYI if you ever wondered what the middle iniial V stood for he would say it was “Vonderful”
    Amazing how many people and how much gear we could jam into his orange Volkswagen beetle!
    Fair Winds and clear skys my friend!

  10. October 1967 – a class of 13 students from Carleton University in Ottawa Canada made their first Parachute Jumps. Among them Harro V. (for Vunderful) Trempenau and myself. I later served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association with Harro, and I remember well his commitment and passion for the sport. RIP

  11. Hi All … please contact the Kenya Skydiving Club for donations for the U$ 45,000 bill of the Search & Rescue effort … also we (the Kenya Skydiving Club) will intend to organize a HARRO MEMORIAL 4 WAYS COMPETITION where each team, or/and each support person will get a PATCH with the LOGO of KENYA SKYDIVERS that was designed by Harro, and a Memorial term, all of which will go to the Harro’s Memorial Fundation to (a) pay for his enormous Search & Rescue bill, and (b) the continuity of his memory through the sport he loved so much : SkyDiving.

  12. Harro and I had many fun and exciting times together so I am very sad to hear of his tragic death. We dated and traveled extensively in Kenya: climbing Mt. Kenya and visiting George Adamson’s camp were just two highlights. I cherish those memories and cherish the friendship we had and the many times we flew together.

  13. I only see this years too late. Harro looked after me very well moons ago when I got myself in a bit of trouble in Kenya. A heart of gold, task driven, and relentless, that’s what I remember best about him. Rest in Peace my friend.
    Michel Repas

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