has been a stalwart of the UK Air Display circuit for over 40 years with his
first display occurring in 1973 whilst on an exchange tour with the Army Air Corps
flying the Scout AH.1. As the Senior Pilot of 705 Naval Air Squadron, he
led the renowned Sharks Helicopter Display Team in 1982 flying the Gazelle HT.2.
Having not had his fill of display flying, John joined the Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF) in 1986, having already accrued a large number of tail-wheel hours flying Chipmunks while aero-towing for the RN Gliding Clubs since 1979.
An initial season displaying the Swordfish in 1986 subsequently led to him stepping into the Firefly AS.5 in 1987 and both the Sea Fury FB.11 and T.20 in 1988.
He took over as the Flight Commander of RNHF in 1991 where he remained until he retired from the Royal Navy in 1994.
After life in the RN John took up a career with the airlines, but this never deterred him from display flying and throughout the nineties and even currently he
can be seen displaying historic Rotary and Fixed Wing aircraft at air displays all over the UK.
returned to the RNHF
in 2004 as the civilian General Manager and as a mentor for the RNHF pilots following the tragic loss of the Firefly and its crew in a display accident the previous year.
John eventually retired in 2009, but continues to mentor RNHF pilots whilst displaying Warbirds as Chief Pilot of Kennet Aviation and other historic collections when asked.
has made a significant contribution to the RNHF
over the years, but particularly in the last decade, both as the General Manager and now as a pilot mentor.
As a mentor he
generously gives up his
time to fly with all the pilots on a regular basis allowing them to benefit from his
extensive experience and wisdom.
has also facilitated the use of civilian aircraft such as the Piston Provost, Jet Provost, T6 Texan
own Chipmunk on a regular basis, all of which have been invaluable.
Combined with John's
continued coaching and encouragement this allows the pilots to safely make the transition from the Chipmunk to the Swordfish and ultimately the Sea Fury, or Sea Hawk, thus ensuring the pilots are suitably qualified to display historic aircraft to the general public in a safe manner.
Over the past few years John
(along with his
co-owner) has generously allowed the RNHF
the use of his
Chipmunk for continuation training when the Flight's Chipmunk has been unavailable for engineering reasons.
This comes at considerable personal financial cost to John
as the RNHF
do not pay him for the hours used and since October 2013 to May 2014, RNHF pilots have flown 60 hours (half the RNHF annual Chipmunk allocation) on his
Without this unwavering support, the RNHF
would find it incredibly difficult to operate safely.
As an experienced DAE he has utilised his extensive knowledge to mentor many civilian display acts whilst remaining an active display pilot.
At displays he
is always keen to engage with the general public, (the raison d'être for display flying after all) by showing them the aeroplanes up close and answering many questions.
can often be observed allowing little boys and girls as well as not so little boys and girls to sit in the cockpits of these rare machines making aeroplane noises, pretending they are wheeling it through the skies just for a moment.
It makes one wonder how many of those little boys or girls have become, or are going to become pilots after that momentary encounter with John
at an Air Show somewhere.