JOHN ROMAIN / PILOT
John’s aviation career commenced upon leaving school when he became a technician apprentice with Hawker Siddeley Dynamics, later to become British Aerospace. Engineering came naturally to him and he was awarded Apprentice of the Year in his first year. During his apprenticeship at Aerospace, John qualified as a missile systems designer but also accomplished many other projects. One of note, being to design, build and drive a vehicle which could cover as many miles as possible on one gallon of fuel. In the competition, attended by major manufacturers, including those from the motor industry, John’s vehicle came first giving 1,379 miles to the gallon!
John left British Aerospace in 1980 and started full-time at Duxford taking over restoration of the first Bristol Blenheim. A volunteer at Duxford since 1972 John had already gained a lot of experience on vintage aircraft whilst working with the late Ormond Haydon Baillie.
During the early 1980’s John learned to fly, gaining his PPL in 1984. Eager to fly tailwheel aircraft he underwent training with John Larcombe, an ex RAF instructor, who converted him onto the Chipmunk, Harvard and Beech 18. John gained his commercial pilot’s licence in 1988, however, as a fully licensed engineer with considerable experience on vintage aircraft he was in constant demand to continue in engineering.
Setting up the Aircraft Restoration Company in 1989 John now runs the company from its Duxford base. Following its crash at Denham in 1987, rebuilding the second Blenheim was the most publicised of the company’s achievements but a wide range of aircraft have been through the workshops since.
John’s flying career continued to expand after further training with Hoof Proudfoot, Mark Hanna and John Crocker. He gained his aerobatic and formation skills plus those necessary to fly larger aircraft such as the Blenheim and B-25. In the last ten years, John has flown over 88 different types of aircraft including the SE5a, Lysander, Spitfire, Hurricane and Corsair. His latest type conversion was an Me109 Buchon in September 2006.
John is also chief test pilot for Historic Flying Limited, a privately owned company based at Duxford that rebuilds Spitfires. John carries out air tests on each finished project, successful completion of which will earn the aircraft its Permit to Fly from the Civil Aviation Authority.
John logged 500 hours on Spitfires in July 2007, a noteworthy feat indeed. His hours on Spitfires have accumulated not just with test flying but collectively with display flying for Air Shows, flypasts and formation flying. At the International Biggin Hill Air Show in June 2007, John was awarded the Breitling Trophy for the Best Solo Display, which he flew in a Spitfire Mk IX.