John Flippen, Lead Pilot for San Diego Salute, was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas and now resides in Bonita, CA with his wife, Mary Lou, and four kids, Paul, Hannah, Blake and Parker. They all love to fly.

John served in the United States Navy from 1984-1990. He served onboard US navy Warships in the Persian Gulf as an Electronic Warfare Specialist Petty Officer 1st Class. He saw action aboard DDG-15, USS Berkeley, and FFG-3, USS Schofield. After his tour in the Navy John started working at Qualcomm INC in San Diego where he retired after 25 years through an incredible growth period in the wireless telecom industry.

He started flying at Navy North Island Flying Club in 1996 and received his Private Pilot Certificate in 1997. He quickly migrated to the T-34’s at the Navy Flying club and became enamored with flying formation. In 2003 he received his FAST Card allowing him to fly formation in airshows and now holds a LEAD FAST card. He is also an instructor with a Commercial Certificate, teaching others the art of Formation Flying.

He owns a 1955 Beechcraft T-34A Mentor that he purchased in 2003. He keeps his plane at the Gillespie Airport in El Cajon, California. John was born to fly. His dad and uncles were pilots as well as his older brother, Danny, who often flies in airshows. He has accumulated over 2,000 hours of total time and over 1200 hours in his T-34 nicknamed “Ole Yeller”.