John Lamont has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to aviation in the Queen’s Birthday awards.
Lamont has had a life-long association with classic and Warbirds aircraft and the Warbirds Over Wānaka [WOW] International air show.
Warbirds Over Wānaka general manager Ed Taylor said the news had been especially important given the major disappointment of having to cancel this year’s air show because of coronavirus.
“There have been a few long faces around the organisation for the past few weeks since having to cancel the air show for the first time ever in its 32-year history but news of John’s honour has brought more than a few smiles.”
Lamont has been a driving force behind the Warbirds Over Wānaka airshow and is one of New Zealand’s most experienced warbird pilots.
He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) before his 30-year career as a commercial pilot.
He flew in the first Warbirds Over Wānaka airshow in 1988 and is one of only two pilots to have flown in every show since.
He has given countless hours of his time to the organising and running of the event over the past 22 years.
As chief pilot of the Wānaka-based Fighter Collection, he has set and implemented standards of piloting of rare and restored aircraft which have been adopted throughout the country.
He has flown at airshows in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Denmark, Australia and the United States.
He was invited to lead the Royal New Zealand Air Force Red Checkers’ 50th anniversary flight over Christchurch in 2017.
Lamont has voluntarily served as an instructor for the New Zealand Warbirds Association for the past 40 years, is a board member for the New Zealand Airshows Association and is a current incident manager for Wānaka Search and Rescue.
“John has made a massive contribution to not just the Wānaka air show but also Warbird events around New Zealand and the world. He is one of the very best Warbirds pilots in terms of skill level and is always happy to pass on his knowledge to the new guys coming through,” Taylor said.
Lamont is a director of Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshows Limited which stages the biennial event.
He said he was "stunned" to be given the award but was very fortunate to have been involved in aviation and, in particular, Warbirds Over Wanaka, its great group of people and the organisation.
He said he had been fascinated with aeroplanes since the age of four when his family moved to Blenheim and were not very far away from the Omaka aerodrome.
"I saw aeroplanes flying over all the time, and from then on I was hooked," he said.
Read edition 977 of the Wānaka Sun here.