John officially started flying in 1962, but the first entry in his log book was flying a 1946 Commonwealth, Sky Ranger, when he was 14 years old. John’s love of flying came from his father, John H. Lane, Sr. an aerial “Ace” in the Pacific Theater flying P-39’s, P-38’s and P-47’s in combat out of New Guinea, during World War II.
John went on to join the U.S. Army during the Vietnam era and the Army National Guard where he worked as a civil service technician for almost 12 years of service. While working with the guard Huey's, he designed and produced nylon door rollers for the Helicopter sliding doors which are now used on most military & civilian model UH-1 type’s around the world today.
John flew aerial tankers for Globe Air (an air response company) and was a relief pilot for Hawkins and Powers on the PBY42 Privateer. He attained a Flight Engineers Reciprocating Engine rating, on the Lockheed Connie’s and also flew as flight engineer B-29’s, FIFI and Fertile Myrtle!
Good Friend, The late Jim Orton and John made an agreement with ED Maloney, founder of “Planes of Fame” Museum to get General Eisenhower’s B-25 back flying and maintain her for the airshow circuit, This plan went from 1976-1978.
John and his Dad joined the CAF together in 1976 with Tennessee Ernie Ford presenting their wings during the ceremony! They both were founding members to start the Arizona Wing of the CAF. While attending the CAF airshow in Harlingen, Texan Mike Clarke approached John, Jim Orton, John & Greg Yates asking, if he was to purchase the B-17 “Class of 44”, would we fly maintain & restore her to her WWII Glory! The airplane is now The “Sentimental Journey”. John went on to fly and maintain her for 10 years!
John was actively earning a living in hot rods, race cars, and boats and racing engines while having aircraft projects on the side as a hobby. Then in the late seventies, while attending the Indy 500 he was exchanging thoughts with Doug Champlin of Champlin Oil Exploration, about Doug’s collection of WWI & WWII aircraft located in Enid, Oklahoma. He said he was working on a plan to move his collection to Falcon Field in Mesa, Arizona and resurrect the WW2 hangers to house his airplanes. In 1980 John went to work for Champlin Fighter Museum piecing together one of the finest collections of aircraft while serving as this Director of Maintenance & Restoration. John worked for 5 ½ years maintaining and building the collection. A few of the highlights would be 4 ½ years of which he worked restoring a Spitfire T-MK IX, a WW1 Austrian Fighter AVIATIK D-1 (only complete in the world), a MIG-17 and F-86. John also maintained Lefty Gardner’s P-38 Lightning! John went off flying aerial tanker’s flying out of Twin Falls, Idaho. While their he was offered a job with a new company “Northwest Warbirds” restoring and flying a small fleet of Grumman TBM’s back to their WWII glory.
John has devoted many years to the Reno and Mojave Air Races, crewing for many racers over the years. Including Gary Levitz P-38, Mick Rupp’s “Old Crow,” Alan Preston’s “Dago Red,” John Crocker’s “Something Else,” He also crewed on “Stiletto,” “Miss America,” Precious Metal,” and recently crewed for Warhawk Air Museum's P-51C "Boise Bee", P-40N “Parrot Head” and P-40E“Sneak Attack”.
In March of 1988 Airpower Unlimited LLC. Was formed by him and his wife Nancy, in which continues today 30 years restoring and maintaining and flying piston powered Warbird Aircraft! John, Jr. Continues attaining the ratings necessary to fly these fabulous warbirds for customers they restore & maintain today!
John has been a longtime volunteer at Warhawk Air Museum! He is a Quiet Birdmen, a member of Commemorative Air Force, and EAA Warbirds of America, and the North American Trainer Association F.A.S.T. as a check pilot, also check pilot for Fighter Formation Group. John holds an A&P and IA. License John has over 50 years of aviation flying, maintenance and restoration experience!
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