Author(s): Vincent Orange
Johnny Checketts, widely recognised as one of the great fighter pilots of World War II, was born and raised in Invercargill, South Island, New Zealand. Considered by the locals to be a dare-devil motorcycle rider in his youth, it was natural that in 1939 he should join the RNZAF, then undergoing rapid expansion to its wartime strength of 33,000 men. In spite of being well over the average age for a fighter pilot, Johnny worked hard and turned out to be a great airman, tactician and leader in battle, achieving one of the highest scores of enemy aircraft destroyed in the air war over the Channel. He was shot down in September 1943 but avoided capture by the Germans with the help of the French Resistance - an absorbing story in itself. Rising to the rank of Wing Commander and being personally decorated by King George VI, after the war Johnny returned to New Zealand, left the service in 1955, founded an aerial topdressing company, and then lived in happy retirement until his death in 2006 at the age of 94.
"'The author has written this story in clear, uncluttered prose. It is a must for the flying enthusiast.' New Zealand Herald 'An intriguing insight into what makes a wartime ace.' Auckland Star"