Sir John entered the RAF College Cranwell in 1961, and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in 1964. In a distinguished Service career, he flew fighters such as the Lightning, Phantom and Tornado (although his favourite was, perhaps, the Phantom) and rose to some of the most senior appointments in the Royal Air Force, including Air Officer Commanding 11 Group. He retired in 1999 as Air Officer Commanding Strike Command. He was, however, perhaps better known by the general public as a superb display pilot, particularly of World War Two aircraft. His precise yet exciting displays of Rolls-Royce owned and Shuttleworth Collection aircraft have thrilled air show crowds for many years.
Sir John has flown more than 100 types of aircraft, and is a tireless advocate for all forms of aviation. As well as being a Director and Trustee of the Shuttleworth Collection, he is President of the Light Aircraft Association, and President of a Europe-wide aviation organization, the GA Alliance.
Sir John and Lady Allison have five children and twelve grandchildren.