Ralph (Raphael) James, Major General (retired), joined the Defence Forces as a Cadet with the 50th Army Cadet Class and the 8th Regular Air Corps Class in 1973. During his Air Corps career he flew many aircraft types in various mission profiles including maritime patrolling and Ministerial air transport. Maj Gen James was serving as Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, at the time of his retirement from the Defence Forces in 2015; he was the first Air Corps officer to be appointed by the Government to the Defence Forces General Staff. His career has continued as the Director of Regulatory Affairs and Director of Safety Regulations with the Irish Aviation Authority. Maj Gen James was interviewed for the Military Archives Oral History Project in February 2017.

In this clip, Major General James recalls his ‘Wings Day’, which was a ceremony to celebrate his qualification as a pilot in the Air Corps. He recalls that his ‘Wings’ were given to him by Brigadier General Jerry O’Connor (then General Officer Commanding the Air Corps) and recalls hearing the song Va, pensiero by Giuseppi Verdi, which his father had played to him as a child. Major General James went on to become General Officer Commanding the Irish Air Corps and Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations).

In this clip, Major General James recalls his first solo flight on a Chipmunk 166 (de Havilland Canada Chipmunk) plane in September 1974 and explains the feelings associated with such a landmark in his training.

In this clip, Major General James speaks about his early memories of Cadet School in the Air Corps with the 8th Regular Air Corps Cadet Class (1973). He remembers a humorous incident when Lieutenant Kevin Humphries was inspecting the class which contained his brother Gerry Humphries.

In this clip, Major General James recalls flying the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Jack Lynch and his wife and remembers Lynch’s wife insisting on making the tea for her husband.