In Alexander Schaub … our son, brother and “champ” remembered I summarized my views and memories of the tragedy that ripped a great “champ” from our midst. In this blog post, posted at high-noon in sunny Vancouver, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all our friends, our family, the AFOS family, BB&D, Microsoft, the Visual Studio ALM Rangers, our DevX Customer and Project Management team, and my manager and dear friend Bijan Javidi. Your support was and is phenomenal and together with the kind words for our “champ” and knowing that he touched so many lives in so many good ways makes the nightmare a tiny bit less painful.
For everyone who could not enter the chapel on Friday July 2nd for the farewell ceremony, either due to not being able to make it to Johannesburg or due to an unexpected, but welcome flood of friends and family members, I would like to herewith summarize the speeches, include a few key photographs and attach the music that was composed for Alexander by his friends.
Pictures taken during his last few days … all proof of the pinnacle of happiness he enjoyed.
The special “jet” day with Ralf (phenomenal aviation role model) … the day Alex’s career ambitions solidified in his mind …
The champ, his brothers (Jacques and Thorsten), ‘Bodo’ our dachshund and his “very”special Nicola
Flight from Richards Bay to Johannesburg and back with his aviation friend (brother) Alan
Flying in Richards Bay with the AFOS family … a huge highlight in his life
“Wings” ceremony … I wish I could have been there to hug him!
… a “proud” pilot!
Alex’s favourite plane … Papa-Papa-Tango (PPT) … it now has its very own guardian angel
The last excursion with his AFOS family on June 27th … one very happy team!
Two fever trees, planted on the hillside above the accident scene … by Alan in memory of the two young men (Marco and Alexander) who lost their life
Air traffic communication … in case you would like to hear the “Champ” in the air
- Good luck from instructor to Alex before private pilot license (PPL) test
- Takeoff for PPL test
- Landing after PPL test
- Landing at Rand Airport after flight from Richards Bay
Song (written, composed and presented by his classmates)
A special song composed and performed by Alex’s classmates … Goodbye my friend
Song (written, composed and presented Peter … Nicola’s brother)
Peter’s composition for Alex … phenomenal!
Verstehen kann ich’s einfach nicht,
Warum musstest du schon geh’n?
Du, unser Sonnenschein und unser Licht,
Wann werden wir uns wieder seh’n?
Du warst so gluecklich aus Herzenskraft,
Hast so viel erreicht mit all’ deiner Macht.
Hast uns stets mit Stolz bedeckt,
Vor keiner Herausforderung zurueckgeschreckt.
Wir wirst du mir fehlen, deine Stime am Morgen?
Was werd’ ich nur tun ohne “Skypen” und Cell?
Angst hatte ich immer um dich und auch Sorgen,
Ich hab’ dich so lieb, es schmerzt auch so sehr,
Ein Leben ohne dich, es wird mir furchtbar schwer.
Ruhe in Frieden!
“Aviation is proof that given the will, we have the capacity to achieve the impossible”, Edward v Rickenbacker.
And that is exactly what you did Alex my dearest angel, my sunshine. I will miss you terribly and hope that one day we will meet again there where you were so happy. Rest in peace, I shall love you forever.
In the name of Willy, Jacques and Thorsten, I would like to thank everyone who played such a significant part in Alex’s life, especially his aunt Angelika, uncle Jan, his cousins Michael and Martin, Brian his mentor, who took him “under his wings”, Nicola for giving him all the confidence and loving him unconditionally and last but not least his flying family, the AFOS team. Thank you for doing so much for our angel and helping him live his dream.
If Alexander could say one final thing, he would say … “do not feel sorrow, do not cry for me, but rather celebrate life and remember me by just how much I achieved and lived in my short but very special life”.
Fly high and safe Alex, you will always be our oldest brother!
Heiko (special friend)
On the 18th May 1992 Alexander Schaub was born in Johannesburg as the first of three sons of Carola and Willy. At the age of three, Alex visited the Tante Baerbel Kindergarten in Fairland, where we first met. Due to the developed friendship between our parents, Alex and I also began to see each other more often and the first brick for a lasting friendship was laid.
Because Alex is one year younger than I am, he joined the Deutsche Schule of Johannesburg one year after me, The school beginning was great for us, because when he was in the first grade and I was in the second, we had classrooms next to each other and spent our 5 minute breaks together, informing each other what we have learned in the previous lesson, Until the beginning of this year he always reminded me how I was showing off back then, because I could already count till 100 and he had just learnt how to count till 10. But even if my knowledge was more advanced at that time, Alex always had two marks on his report that were better than mine. The one mark being for arts and the other one being for neatness of his handwriting. This already showed us an early stage what greatness Alex had. And the ones that have seen pictures drawn by him know exactly what I’m talking about.
After a few years Carola and Willy asked my mother and father to become Alex’s godparents. This of course stabled and increased our friendship even more, so that Alex became my younger brother and I became his older brother.
When our teen years started, Alex developed interests that the least boys in that age group had. Mostly boys love Soccer and cars when they are teenagers. But Alex wasn’t like that. His big passion was swimming. Every time Alex was in the water, he could forget the world around him, because water was his element. He trained so much that he eventually participated in many races, winning most of them. But he did not only win competitions, he also won the respect of those, who underestimated his skills till then.
His other passion was flying. He always loved aeroplanes, especially fast jets, and he began to play with the idea of becoming a pilot. When he turned 16, Carola and Willy gave him the opportunity. With a lot of enthusiasm, Alex hit the books and started to study for all the exams needed to become a pilot. This is the time where he began to work for his future, because he was striving to become a pilot for the Deutsche Luftwaffe.
Although many people know Alex as a shy and quiet boy, he was never like that towards me. In fact, he was more or less the opposite when we spent time together. In some cases he couldn’t stop talking, but I didn’t really mind it because our conversations never got boring. We spoke about everything that boys in our age could talk about and here and there we became very philosophical. That is how our life motto developed. We always said to each other:
“Man lebt nur einmal, also mach das Beste draus” … “You only live once, so do the best out of it” … and that is exactly what Alex did.
He dreamed of becoming a fast swimmer, so he did it. He dreamed of becoming a pilot for the Deutsche Luftwaffe and even though his family moved to Canada, he decided to stay in South-Africa in order to do his Abitur which was needed to fulfill his dream. This shows what outstanding willpower Alex has. He was one of the few people I know that actually lived his dreams and when he found the love of his life, Nicola, he became the happiest person on earth. So even if his life ended due to a tragic car accident, I am sure he passed away with a smile on his face.
Carola, Willy, Jacques and Thorsten, I wish you all the strength needed to overcome this terrible loss, but knowing the Schaub family have an incredible, strong relationship and stands united like no other family; I am convinced that you will find this strength.
Sebastian (special friend)
Today we stand here to say farewell to our beloved Alexander Schaub. he was a son, brother, nephew, cousin, class mate, friend and my best friend. Even today I cannot believe that our champion was called by God to show his kindness and good spirit in his paradise so that it could be an even better place.
I spent a first-class youth with this guy and my best memories are with him. I still recall playing Alien with Alex, Heiko, Thorsten and Jacques and most of the time Alex would play the Alien and we would try and survive in cupboards, hiding in dark places upstairs in the Brooklands house.
Willy and Carola there is something I want to tell you from the bottom of my heart. We were lucky to have Alex with us and from 17 years I have known him there are three things he wanted:
He wanted a happy family. He wanted a pilot’s license … these two you gave him.
And a girlfriend … and Nicola you gave him this joy.
He had all three and I can tell you now that he achieved what he wanted in South-Africa.
When I look at Jacques and Thorsten I will always see him!
Willy will always remind me of Alex’s personality!
Carola you have his smell!
Nicola (love of his life)
To most people at school he was “Schaubi”. A shy, withdrawn, intelligent young man who was driven by his intense passion for flying. But to those who were close to him, he was Alexander or Alex. The Alex I got to know and grew to truly love , was talkative, witty, sincere, concerned about his friends and loved ones, devoted to his family and dedicated to his passion.
Alex was a true all-rounder. When he wasn’t flying, studying for either school or flying, spending time with me or his friends, he was in the gym working on his fitness, making sure it was up to scratch with the high Luftwaffe standard. His genius idea of drinking raw eggs with banana proved to have kept him in shape, as the air force doctor in Germany reported.
Even though he was an intelligent, sporty, dedicated and considerate gentleman, I must add that his skills in the kitchen left lots to be desired. The two of us had a good laugh the one day when he asked me if his home-made mango smoothie tasted a bit funny. Upon tasting it, I figured out that Alex had thrown the entire Mango, with the pip and skin into the mixer and tuned it on.
Alex was extremely grateful towards his family, but especially towards his parents Carola and Willy, for allowing him to stay in South-Africa and not only finish his Abi, but also achieve his PPL (personal pilot license) and, as it turned out, spend time with me. When speaking about his family- like when he spoke about his flying- his eyes would light up and he would smile happily.
From the way Alex treated my brother Peter, I could see how much he missed his own brothers and how dearly he loved them. He always looked forward to chatting to them on “Skype” or playing “Counterstrike” over the network with them.
I will always be his first love. I will always love him for who he was. A kind, sincere, intelligent, witty, sporty, driven, ambitious and passionate gentleman, who could write the most heartfelt love poems and always made me feel like a true princes. I was his “Engel” and now he really is one.
Alex inspired me to become more determined to go after my passion for medicine- no matter what, and he above all, he made me brave.
From the incredible support I have received over these past few difficult days, it is clear to me how Alex touched and inspired so many people.
I would like to thank you all for that support!
Alan (aviation friend and first passenger)
I had the pleasure and honour of meeting you recently when you guys came down to Richards Bay to continue your flight training, due to flight restrictions in the Johannesburg area as a result of the soccer world cup. A brief period that I’ll cherish forever and ever. You were the younger brother that I never had and the new best friend that I was so longing for.
During these past two weeks you really came out of your shell and you showed such confidence and feared nothing. I was witness to this growth and transformation phase in your life that made you even more likeable and loveable and added to your already remarkable character and personality. I thoroughly enjoyed our time together, a brief time in which we grew very close to each other. We shared a lot and spoke deeply on matters in life when we flew up to Rand airport last Tuesday, and again on our return trip on Saturday morning back to Richards Bay.
You knew exactly what you wanted from life and you had your future carefully mapped out. You touched my heart and left a very, very deep imprint that will remain there forever. I am twice your age and to date have never met an 18 year old that knew exactly what he wanted or where he was going in life. I was really looking forward to meeting up with you again in Canada at the end of this year for a few months before you would be off to the German Airforce. I will take you, my “Wingman” up flying with me each and every time I go flying and your seat in the cockpit will always be open. Your passion for aviation was reflected by your enthusiasm. You attained your PPL and were issued with your pilot wings from Afos at your solo party down in Richards Bay within a few days after your arrival.
I was privileged to be your first passenger, after attaining your pilot’s license, on the flight up to Rand airport when we took the aircraft up for a service, and was honoured that you were my “Wingman” and “Co-Pilot” on the return flight back to Richards Bay. I still remember us sitting on the grass at Richards Bay alongside the aircraft, waiting for our lift back to my house. We were chatting about how awesome the flight was and what flying we were going to do together this week and in the future, we also commented on how comfortable we felt in the aircraft whilst the other was flying and in control, and I said “You can be my Wingman any day.” We looked at each other and spontaneously repeated a sentence from one of your old time favourite movies, Top Gun, and said to each other “Bull dust, you can be mine,” which was followed by a huge chuckle.
You were not shy about expressing your emotions or letting friends and family know that you loved them. You always referred to the Afos group as your “Afos Family,” and that we are and always will be with the greatest of pride and respect of all the time and memories shared together, regardless of how brief. We all share the same passion for aviation, for people in general, and most of all for each other.
We had an awesome time in Durban on Sunday at Ushaka Seaworld, and then on the return trip our lives were ripped apart and your life was tragically taken away from us the following day. I have never cried or gone down on my knees and prayed as much as I did over the recent days, begging and pleading that you be spared and that you pull through. I have always been “Mr tough guy,” always able to hold back emotions, but you were so special and I just have not been able to hold back my tears and emotions. Now God has a greater need for you and He has issued you with your very own set of wings. By now I am sure that you have mastered using them and are probably even showing off doing some aerobatics and low level flying. The flight back to Rand Airport on Wednesday was exceptionally difficult and done with a very heavy heart. During this fight I remembered a conversation on the previous flight we did from Rand airport to Richards Bay when we experienced some minor turbulence. I told you that I don’t enjoy turbulence and that I tense up and my knuckles normally go white from clenching the control stick very firmly. You told me how much you enjoyed the turbulence and adrenalin of aerobatics and flight limitations.
On the flight back to Rand airport on Wednesday I experienced some minor turbulence before landing at Newcastle so that we could refuel. I immediately thought of you, our conversation and how much you would have enjoyed it. When we left Newcastle the turbulence became much worse and normally I would be very nervous and uncomfortable, but this time I was overwhelmed with an exceptional sense of calmness and flew only with two fingers holding the control stick. I said to myself that the turbulence was your way of letting me know that you were up there with me, right by my side. I cannot explain the calm and comfort that came over me, but remain convinced that you were up there with me and beside me all the way.
You were very keen to introduce me to your folks once I was living across in Canada later this year. I can only wish that I didn’t have to meet them like this, but I will remain in contact with them always, they are awesome, just like you told me, so too are your aunt and cousin where you stayed when we were up in Johannesburg last week.
I would give anything to have you back again. Love and miss you immensely my wingman.
Until we meet again
Margrit (Alex’s “Schwester” … pulled from facebook)
The first swimmer to jump into the icy water on a Monday and Wednesday morning, the one to carry his PPL study booklet in his hands nearly every second of the day, the beautiful eagle-artworks, the one to blush every time Nicola was in sight-our classmate, Alex. Who would’ve guessed that during our twelve years of our school career, twelve years of growing up together, learning together, laughing, hating teachers and struggling together, we would end up crying together when the heaviest shock yet hit us just four months before we were finally done.
The sudden passing of our classmate has left a scar on not only his family and friends but on his classmates. While the rest of the school seemed to deal with the usual first-day-back-at-school scenario, silence and grief accompanied the icy stare of his empty chair yesterday. Nicht jeder hatte eine enge Verbindung mit Alex, doch umso persönlicher, stärker und intensiver waren die, mit dem er eine teilte. Apart from being his classmate, I had the privilege of Alex calling me his sister, since we shared the same family over the past 18 months.
Yesterday, I started writing a list of all the ‘Alex and Margrit moments’. When I, smilingly, started page 6, I remembered a phrase that was said at the funeral of my 18-year old friend Stefanie, a few years back: Let us not keep questioning and repeating WHY? WHY?
Instead, let us repeat and share the word WHEN!
Remember WHEN Alex and I couldn’t stop laughing the day before our Geschichtsklausur, holding our sore stomachs out of pure frustration of not having a clue what our teacher had tried to teach us in class. Eventually, we printed 27 Wikipedia pages, and studied these, which, as it turned out, didn’t help much either because we walked out of that exam with 36% and 40%.
WHEN Alex asked me if I could go shopping with him for the Valentines Ball. We stood in front of the shirt section when I realised Alex had no clue what size he takes. And me, having 2 sisters wasn’t of much help. Instead of asking for help, we just grabbed a random shirt, and he walked out of the dressing room in something that looked like a nightgown. We found out later, we had taken an obese-size.
I think our whole class remembers WHEN Alex was complaining that we had WAY too much homework, when we secretly knew he had finished his holiday-homework before the holidays had even started.
At this point I would like to challenge each one of us to take Alex as an example for the time ahead of us. Yes, we can cry together, we can question, we can dry
each others’ tears, but as a class we need to stay strong. We’ve got Prelims and Finals just around the corner.
In honour of Alex, let’s be prepared well in advance. He will be smiling down at us, flying high.
Alex, mein Bruder, den ich mir so lange gewuenscht habe, ich vermisse dich.
Liebe Rodi, lieber Willy, Jacques and Thorsten. Liebe Freunde und Bekannte.
I Wish I had the words
I wish I had the words,
to make everything alright.
I wish I had the comfort,
to ease your darkest night.
I wish I had the power,
to chase away your fears,
I wish I had the means,
to dry your heartfelt tears.
I wish I knew the way,
to take away your sorrow,
I wish I had the joy,
to give you for tomorrow.
But what I have I give to you,
my hand of love and friendship too.
I give my shoulder on which to cry,
I give my hope to questions why?
I give my time if you need,
You’re in my thoughts and prayers indeed.
If I think back to the 18th of May 1992, when I went to the Park Lane Clinic to visit Carola and my little nephew and there I stood behind a glass window and tried to identify him amongst the many babies . Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the time would come where I once again had to be in the position to identify him.
I stand here today with a heavy heart to say farewell to Alex whom I have grown very close to over the last 18 months. We spent many a weekend together and shared secrets and exchanged views. Alex had not only grown taller, but matured into a confident, dedicated and caring young man, always making sure he did not “stress” his Tante Geka. I now wish he were there to stress me, eat one tin of peaches after the other and have dry jungle oats and highlight his hair. We went to movies and shows and shared many thoughts about flying and Nicola.
Alex, you have done well and your parents can be very proud of you. You are going to leave a void for sure and will be missed not only by your mom, dad, brothers, Tante Geka, Onkel Jan, Michael, Martin, Nicola and family, but also by many, many more. We will not forget you. Alex, Rest in Peace, Fly high! Alex, Ruhe in Frieden mit all unser Liebe.
Carola, Willy, and the family would like to thank
Brian Appleton for his handling of the tragedy, his calm head, compassion and help. What a friend indeed!
Doves Funeral parlour for their arrangements.
Bernie Yves for his lovely words of comfort.
AFOS and the flying team for all they have done for Alex and their support throughout the last few days.
All the friends and well-wishes, flowers, condolences, phone- calls and support.
Frank and Paula, Tante Karin and Christl coming from afar.
Please remember our “champ” and especially his motto for life and infectious passion for his family, friends, his girlfriend Nicola and aviation … listed in no specific order, although aviation and Nicola probably competed for the #1 slot 🙂 Most importantly, live your life according to his exceptional motto: "You only live once, so do the best out of it”!
Alexander, please meet “Nicola” the African Hawk Eagle, who we adopted at http://birdsofprey.co.za in your name. May you both fly high, happy, proud and safe under the African Sky Blue… missing you terribly and loving you forever “Champ”!
Huge hug from your very proud Paps!
… the feathered Nicola
Make sure that you visit Nicola (Alexander’s adopted bird) and Rosie (Jacques’ adopted bird) on your next visit to Dullstroom (http://birdsofprey.co.za).