John Kenneth Clayton in Mildura (VIC) at 0700 hrs on 25th October 1930, John is still
still remembers at the age of five going to an air pageant at the old Mildura Aerodrome
and seeing Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith and several other pilots conducting joy flights in
the Southern Cross, the Southern Cross Junior and one other aeroplane (he doesn't remember
its name but it was single engine). He does however remember standing close to
Kingsford-Smith. His uncle went for a flight in the Southern Cross that day and it was
then that John became fascinated with flying. Somebody bought him an ice cream from the
large marque erected for the occasion. The following day the three aircraft flew over his
house in formation heading in the direction of what he thinks would have been Adelaide.
While still living in Mildura, he also watched with great excitement for the Ansett
Lockheed Electra (Lockheed 10) that flew from Sydney to Adelaide via Mildura.
In 1937 John's family moved to Essendon (VIC) where he saw what was possibly one of the
first flights of Australian National Airways Douglas DC3 in Australia (VH-UZK
"Kurana"), and in 1945 he witnessed the arrival of the first DC4 Skymaster
Sunday he rode his bike to Essendon Aerodrome (Bulla Road) and watched every aircraft take
off and landing on the then all-over grassed field.
On the 1st
August 1946 (about the same time as TAA flew their first service) John had my first flying
lesson in a DH 82A Tiger Moth at Essendon. While his Dad was unaware of John's flying
lessons (he witnessed a fatal crash in India and was not told of John's flying until after
he received my CPL), John's mum had financed most of his flying (3 pounds an hour).
According to the Department Of Civil Aviation the records show John's age as 17 when he
started flying! (John thinks it still stands today that he is 2 years older that I really
The aircraft he flew in the late 40's were DH 82A, DH60G, Miles Whitney Straight, Ryan
STM, Avro Cadet, Wackett Trainer, Stinson Voyager, Portafield, DHC Chipmunk and
various Auster models. In 1949 he was in the first civil batch of pilots to be accepted
into Australian National Airways prior to this, war time pilots only were accepted). As a
point of interest ANA, at its peak, operated 36 DC3's, 10 DC4's, 2 DC6's, 6 DC6B's and 3
John's flying years with ANA included endorsements on DC3, DC4 and Bristol Freighters.
This time was cut short with a medical problem he had at the time. He was offered a
position in ANA operations and held that for many years. ANA was taken over by Ansett and
the airline industry took off. John was then transferred to Port Moresby and served in
many places including Lae and Mount Hagen. John returned to Port Moresby as Airport
Manager and then, after nine years in Papua New Guinea, he was offered the position of
Ansett Mount Isa Manager. The next step in John's airline career was in Brisbane as QLD
Sales & Marketing Manager.
flying started in Mount Isa in 1971 and the following year he went to Kingaroy to attend
an instructor course where he met Gus Mauch. While in the Isa, John became Club President
and, because of the isolation and remoteness of the area, he did most of his early cross
country training and flying with Maurie Bradney at Waikerie. In 1975 John came to Brisbane
and, having met Gus, he joined the SDASC at Warwick.
John was later
involved in establishing gliding at Moura and Caboolture and to a lesser extent at Casino.
He has been awarded Life Membership at both the SDASA (Warwick) and Caboolture Gliding
He became CFI at Warwick and served in that position for some 6/7 years and also became
Assistant RTO Ops (Level 3) in 1985 and later, in 1991, he was appointed to the rank of
RTO Ops Queensland. He has served five years as a councillor at the GFA, AGM/ACM and other
advisory positions within the QSA.
JC (as he is
affectionately known) has been a relief instructor at Mangalore Gliding Club (VIC) for
some years during the months of January and February.
first flew with him in a glider at her age of 76 and last flew with him at the age of 92,
she will be 96 at her next birthday (she
lived through to 97 years of age).
As far as power
flying is concerned, John's records show that he has been either been in command, or flown
at the controls of, or flown as passenger in all the Douglas Passenger aircraft (except
the DC1) from the DC2, DC3, DC4, DC5, DC6, DC6B, DC7, DC8, DC9 and DC10.
presently compiling some general information on the history of Australian National Airways
in the years between 1946 and 1956. He has witnessed many achievements and tragedies over
the years, however he still enjoys his glider and power flying immensely and says that he
will continue to fly as long as his arms are strong and flappable. More important to John
however is the life-time of friends that he has met and who have supported him over the
past 55 years (now 63 years) and comments that this "has been indeed
extraordinary to say the least".
In his own words, John is ...
"a very proud father of a very beautiful and loving daughter and the grand father of
a very, very delightful grand daughter".
The original information on the
GFA website was "produced, directed and blessed by JC". In 2004 he was honoured
by his gliding fraternity peers as the recipient of the GFA's Hoinville Award for
outstanding services in the field of Operations. John was a founding member of the Caboolture Gliding Club (and of its
predecessor the Brisbane Valley Gliding Club) and has been a great mentor to generations
of student pilots, pilots and instructors at YCAB. He was the GFA's RTO-Operations QLD for
14 years and, as at 2009, he has been an active Level 3 Instructor for some 27 years