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From the Spitfire Cockpit to the Cabinet Office (Paperback)

The Memoirs of Air Commodore J F ‘Johnny’ Langer CBE AFC DL

Aviation > Aircraft > Spitfires & Hurricanes Aviation > Aviation Biography & Memoirs Aviation > WWII WWII

By J F Langer CBE AFC DL
Imprint: Pen & Sword Aviation
Pages: 296
Illustrations: 100 illustrations
ISBN: 9781399074889
Published: 11th May 2022



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Air Commodore John Langer's career has been eventful to say the least. During the Second World War he flew gliders in India in preparation for airborne assaults in Burma, one of the most perilous landscapes to pass across during this time. Post-war, he served on a fighter squadron in Germany and in Malaya, where he was recommended for an AFC. Later on, he commanded No 43 (F) Squadron, the famous 'Fighting Cocks', and was awarded the AFC. As a Group Captain, he commanded RAF Valley and was awarded the CBE. He ended his RAF career as director of Flying Training where he set up the first team of the Red Arrows. By career’s end, he had flown fifty-six different types of aircraft.

On leaving the RAF, he became the Civil Aviation Security Adviser to the UK Government, serving for eight years as a Crown Servant and a further seven years as a consultant. He was a frequent advisor to the Cabinet Office Briefing Room 'A' (Cobra), consulting with members of the cabinet on national and international aviation matters in the wake of a series of security and terrorist emergencies. In 1993 he was appointed Duty Lieutenant for Greater London, with responsibilities for the borough of Hillingdon, location of both Heathrow and Northolt airport. He looked after members of the Royal Family in their departures from these airports and became a good friend of Princess Diana, chaperoning her on a number of solo outings. Interesting details relating to some of their exchanges are included here.

This is a unique autobiography, taking in a vast spectrum of events and experiences. It is also an important record of political, aviation and social history and should appeal to enthusiasts of all these areas of interest.

Throughout this autobiography there is a frank, refreshing and revealing commentary on service life in all respects - both good and bad. Many members of this society may find amusement and resonance in Johnny's recollections of 'the system' - and names are used without fear or favour. I recommend the book as a very personal and a very readable picture of life that we may have known and, for some, to have been in that picture.

RAF Historical Society

From the Spitfire Cockpit to the Cabinet Office covers a period from the end of WW2 to the first military jets, through the Cold War and the Victor series, to the modern fast jets and the security threats to modern airliners. If military and aviation history is your cup of tea – then you will thoroughly enjoy this book!

Read the complete review here.

Ex Libris, Eon de Vos

This is a particularly interesting story because of the wide range of experience from WWII to the Cold War, to senior rank, to the Cabinet Office. Very Highly Recommended.

Read the full review here.


As featured on Army Rumour Service!


In summary, this is an excellent and very well-written work and would be of great interest to anyone interested in service life in the Post-WWII Royal Air Force. The previously-mentioned technical faults notwithstanding, I would suggest it may even been worthy of the appellation ‘Classic’.

On a Rating Scale where 1: Very Poor, 10: Excellent, I would give it an 8.

NZ Crown Mines - Keith Rimmer

About J F Langer CBE AFC DL

Jonny Langer served in the RAF for thirty-seven years and his love of flying is obvious from his writings. After the RAF, he became an Aviation Security Adviser who helped to develop the security measures for both airlines and airports which are still in use today. His legacy is that civil flying is safer today than it was when hijacks and other attacks were almost everyday occurrences. He has retired to the country where he enjoys, not the peace of the countryside, but the noise of the aircraft operating from nearby RAF Brize Norton.

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