Aviation Historian 22
A.Delalande - All the president's men
Two of the GPG’s three Fouga Magisters during a training flight. Note the different-coloured pennants beneath the front cockpit canopies. The GPG’s Magisters were all retired in 1990 and were acquired by the Congolese government in 1998 for planned diamond-mine protection duties. They remained dismantled and were last noted as being in storage at Lubumbashi in south-eastern Congo in 2005.
The Gabonese Presidential Guard (GPG) fleet beside the hangars at Libreville in the early 1980s, before the retirement of the unit’s Douglas Skyraiders in 1982.
Most of the members of the Presidential Guard air squadron pose in front of two of the unit’s Magisters at Libreville; the pilots are in orange flying suits, including Pierre Grosjean, furthest right with blue flying helmet.
A pair of GPG T-6s, including TR-KFE nearest the camera, flying low over the Gabonese jungle. The rugged, dependable T-6s were initially painted in a dark blue colour scheme, which was replaced by a plain natural-aluminium scheme, as seen here, before ultimately being put into a brown two-tone camouflage scheme.
North American T-6s of the GPG taxy out for a demonstration flight during a national parade at Libreville. In the background are five Skyraiders and the GPG’s Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante.
Mechanic and future GPG pilot Jean Dellac prepares to fly the Malmo MFI-9B Junior he and fellow mechanic Michel Gineste restored in 1980.
Douglas AD-4N Skyraider BuAer No 126956 (c/n 7756), coded “45” in GPG service and registered TR-KMP, was one of the first batch delivered to Gabon, in February 1976. After a period in France as F-AZDQ, it went to the USA, where it is displayed at the USS Alabama Museum in Mobile, Alabama.
The pilots of the GPG and Escadrille Nationale Tchadienne (ENT) Skyraiders used against rebel FROLINAT forces in Chad in July 1977 pose beside an AD-4N at Faya-Largeau. From left to right: Pierre Grosjean (ENT); Rene Gras (GPG); Michel Fayolle (ENT) and Jacques Borne (GPG). Grosjean joined the GPG permanently in 1978.
Jacques Borne in TR-KMP and Pierre Grosjean in TR-KMO during a GPG Skyraider patrol. Originally BuAer No 126922, TR-KMO went to France after its GPG retirement and on to the UK as G-RAID, as which it flew with The Fighter Collection from 1993. Now owned by Kennet Aviation at North Weald, this hardy survivor still flies today on the UK register as G-RADR.
Former Armee de I’Air pilot Jacques Borne joined the GPG in September 1975, and is seen here at the controls of Skyraider "45"/TR-KMP. Note the "ship’s door" in the fuselage, into which Rene Gras clambered after having forced-landed his own Skyraider at Zouar in July 1977.
Skyraider “38”, registered TR-KFR, suffered engine failure while on its delivery flight to Gabon from Chateaudun in northern France, and had to be put down by its pilot, Pierre Grosjean, in Togo. Grosjean was uninjured and was recovered by helicopter but the stripped airframe was ultimately abandoned in situ.
Aerospatiale SA.330 Puma TR-KCI of the GPG performs a transport sortie over the Batanga region of Gabon. The Presidential Guard’s other Puma was fitted with a VIP interior. The unit later also used a small fleet of improved AS.332 Super Pumas, although only one of the latter appears to remain on strength with the GPG in 2018.
In 1982 the GPG swapped its Korean War-vintage Skyraiders for four turboprop-powered Beechcraft T-34C Turbo Mentors, one of which is seen here over the Gabonese plains.