Czechoslovak RAF pilot General Emil Boček, 98, takes to the skies in De Haviland Tiger Moth

Emil Boček

Czechoslovak RAF veteran General Emil Boček, received a belated 98th birthday treat on Wednesday, taking to the skies in a De Havilland Tiger Moth –a plane he first piloted when he joined the RAF. The 15-minute flight was a tribute from the Czech Airforce to one of the country’s last remaining war heroes.  

Emil Boček, a war pilot decorated with the highest state distinctions, showed his mettle at Pohořany Airfield on Wednesday. Three months after his 98th birthday he climbed eagerly into the two-seater De Haviland Tiger Moth rolled out for him courtesy of a collector’s aviation club and pilots from the Časlav air-base. The war hero told Czech Television the British-made plane from 1939 took him back 76 years.

Emil Boček | Photo: Czech Television

“These were the planes we first started flying in Britain. Then we switched to others and finally we ended up flying Spitfires.”

A second De Haviland was rolled out for another VIP passenger –Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka whose father also served in the RAF.

The planes took to the skies executing a few acrobatic elements as a treat for Emil Boček. As a special tribute they were flanked by two Gripens as they descended for the landing. The man who piloted Boček’s plane, Gripen pilot Ivo Kardoš said it was a huge honour to be able to take up one of the last remaining war heroes.

“Our generation grew up on books about Second World War pilots, they were a role model, their patriotism, their bravery, the legacy they left will always serve as an example for us”.

Emil Boček in De Haviland Tiger Moth | Photo: Czech Television

Mr Boček joined the RAF as a mechanic in September 1940, when he was still a teenager. Three years later, he was sent to Canada for training and from October 1944 he served as a pilot with RAF’s 310 Squadron. He carried out 26 operational flights before leaving the air force in 1946. He has received many Czech and British medals, including the highest Czech state distinction, the Order of the White Lion.

His biggest joy is to fly whenever possible. In 2016, at the age of 93 he voiced the wish to go up in a Spitfire like in the old days and he was taken to Biggin Hill airport in Kent, for a half-hour flight, during which he briefly piloted the aircraft himself.

Pilot and collector of veteran planes Richard Santus told Czech Television that as long as Emil Boček has the wish for a taste of the old adrenalin in the skies there would always be pilots eager to grant his wish.