Ian Pringle was born in Port Shepstone and grew up on a gold mine on the East Rand. After national service in the South African Air Force, he migrated to Rhodesia to work as an industrial chemist and flew aircraft as a hobby. He was drafted into the Police Reserve Air Wing as a pilot, and was involved in numerous enemy contacts.
Pringle read his MBA in the UK and rose to divisional CEO level with Burmah Castrol, spending much of his career in Asia and Europe. He learned to fly helicopters and later ex-military jets in England. He retired to Cape Town in 2004, bringing two Cold War jets with him, and he teamed up with Thunder City, where he still flies the Hawker Hunter, Buccaneer and aerobatic aircraft.