John Clayton's

Life Long "Flying Affair"


Adapted by Kevin Rodda in Aug'09 from information that John had provided to the GFA ...

John in 1947 after one of his first solo flights - flown in Tiger Moth VH-ATK ...

... and enjoying another beautiful winter gliding day at Caboolture in Aug'09.

"JC" (as he is affectionately known) was born John Kenneth Clayton in Mildura (Victoria) at 0700 hrs on 25/10/30.

He still remembers vividly 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 airplane (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 marquee 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 (Melbourne) 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 (VH-ANA "Amana").

Nearly every 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 01/08/46 (about the same time as TAA flew their first service) John had his first flying lesson (in a DH 82A Tiger Moth at Essendon). While his Dad was unaware of John's flying lessons (he had witnessed a fatal crash in India and was not told of John's flying until after John had received hisCPL),  John's mum had financed most of his flying (at 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 was 2 years older than he really was).

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 Bristol Freighters.

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.

John's glider 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 SDASC (Warwick) and Caboolture Gliding Clubs.

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 councilor at the GFA, AGM/ACM and other advisory positions within the Queensland Soaring Association (now Gliding Queensland).

"JC" has been a relief instructor at Mangalore Gliding Club (Victoria) for some years during the months of January and February.

John's mother first flew with him in a glider at her age of 76 and last flew with him at the age of 92 (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.

John is 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 almost seven decades and comments that this "has been indeed extraordinary to say the least".

In 2004 he was honoured by his gliding fraternity peers as the recipient of the Gliding Federation of Australia'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 Caboolture Airfield. He was the GFA's RTO-Operations for the Queensland Region for 14 years and has been an active Level 3 Instructor for almost 30 years.

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 above is based on original information from the GFA website 

            that had been authenticated and "blessed" by JC.


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