John Grierson – Aviator
John Grierson was born on January 2, 1909. He was the fourth child and only son to John and Edith Grierson. John (snr) was a successful cotton merchant who lived comfortably in the Sefton Park area of Liverpool. Their roots came from south-west Scotland and John was proud of his Scots forebears.
When John was 11 years old, the family moved south and settled in Weybridge, Surrey. It’s proximity to Brooklands, the prominent race track and flying club of the time, was to be John’s introduction to his lifelong passion. When he had saved sufficient pocket money, he would cycle there for flying lessons. This enabled him to accomplish his first solo flight prior to taking up a place at the RAF College Cranwell, whe he trained as a pilot.
On graduating, John chose to go overseas and was attached to No 11 Bomber squadron on photographic reconnaissance duties based at Risalpur, northern India. In 1930 he bought a second-hand Gypsy Moth and had it painted distinctively red on one side and black on the other, he named it appropriately, Rouge et Noir. He flew this aircraft to his first Squadron in India.
He met the Lindberghs in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1933 whilst attempting to fly solo to America in Rouge et Noir, now fitted with floats, but it overturned on take-off. His next effort was in a Fox Moth named Robert Bruce. On his third try, John successfully made the first London – Ottawa flight, at the same time making the first solo flight across the Greenland ice cap.
Based at Moreton Valence John was a test pilot for Britain’s first jet aircraft, the Gloster E28/39 and subsequently flew the Gloster Meteor F9/40, making the latter’s first U.S. flight on 15 April 1944. After World War II he was Deputy Director of Civil Aviation in the British Zone of Occupied Germany. He later lived in Guernsey where he kept touch with aviation by flying his own aeroplane and with polar flying, undertaking a flight to the South Pole in November 1966. He died on 21st May 1977 shortly after speaking at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum’s symposium on the fiftieth anniversary of Lindbergh’s solo New York to Paris flight.
Article: Mike Grierson, UK
Tags: Cranwell, Edith Grierson, Fox Moth, Greenland, Gypsy Moth, India, John Grierson, Lindberghs, Liverpool, London - Ottawa, No 1Bomber Squadron, RAF College Cranwell, Reykjavik, Risalpur, Robert Bruce, Rouge et Noir, Sefton Park, Surrey, Weybridge