Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

John C Allan


John Allan's first flight in 1935, aged 7, from Christchurch airfield with Alan Cobham, in a Fox Moth, was an experience that turned dreams into reality.

In 1943, he left school and worked in a Shadow Factory machine shop, making parts for Horsa gliders being manufactured by Airspeed Ltd., one mile away. He joined the Air Training Corps to train for aircrew duties a year later.

John started an apprenticeship with Airspeed Ltd., at Christchurch airfield in 1946, and at the same time commenced solo gliding training with the ATC from the same airfield. This was interrupted by 2 years National Service and as aircrew were no longer needed, trained as a Flight Mechanic, returning to the apprentice duties which finished in Aerodynamics Department. With the post-war subsidy for flying training he had flown solo in Auster and Tiger Moth, with the local Aero Club, qualifying for Private Pilot Licence in June 1951.

By now the gliding had progressed and he was a qualified junior instructor with 622 Gliding School and had obtained a Silver 'C' Certificate. Being promoted to Chief Flying Instructor, he was also privileged to be commissioned in the RAFVR.

In the February of 1952 he was transferred to the small Flight Test Department at Airspeed Christchurch and gained experience on the Ambassador prototypes. After a year they were part of De Havilland and the Department moved to Hurn Airport, development testing Vampire, Venom and Sea Venom prototypes.

In June 1955, Lt. Cdr Jock Elliot and John Allan took the prototype Sea Vixen on first flight and commenced a period of 6 years Sea Vixen development flying which ended at Hatfield airfield. Civil aircraft development then followed in Trident 1 for 4 years.

Transferring to Chester Broughton he started production testing on Hawker Siddeley 125 executive jet, Dove, Heron and DHC Beaver pistons. He was recruited by British Aircraft Corporation in 1968 when the Flight Test team were making preparation for first flight in Concorde from Bristol Filton airfield. After that amazing first flight the majority of test flying took place from Fairford and the exploration of the subsonic flight envelope culminated in the first supersonic excursion almost a year later. Modification to intakes was necessary before the full supersonic regime was explored and after some complex control resonance testing they reached Mach 2.0 in November 1970. The most exciting tests made, were from Tangier, when completing aircraft handling with engine/intake response at speeds greater than M2.00 when all four engines were surging at full power with reheat at 50,000ft. The test programme took John all over the world and the aircraft returned to Filton after 10 years of the most rewarding flying you could imagine.

During this latter period of intense activity the RAFVR gliding role was relinquished and his power flying suspended.

Retiring in 1989 was the opportunity for John to regain his gliding and power flying skills which are continued today. He has a British Gliding Association Gold 'C' and 2 diamond certificates, a Motor Glider and Glider instructor rating, Tug rating and glider maintenance certificate.