Helicopter Pilot

John Mckenzie

John Fraser Mckenzie is an ex Army Air Corps and Canadian Air Force helicopter pilot with more than 8000 hours flying in multiple roles on single and twin engine turbine helicopters. He has served on operations in Bosnia and Northern Ireland with extensive experience in multi aircraft operations day and night including Night Vision Goggles (NVG).

John's day-to-day work experience as a pilot covers a diverse range of activities, from patrolling storm damaged powerlines to chauffeuring Nicola Sturgeon all over Scotland during her general election campaign.


John often gets asked where his interest in flying came from. Well, hopefully these pictures of John opening his Action Man Combat plane help to explain things a little.

Day-to-day Work

As a pilot, John's work is extremely varied: if he's not chauffering the rich or famous or filming for film and television, he's providing vital support to remote communities. Over the years he's become a regular hand at events like the Great North Run, the Great Scottish Swim at Loch Lomond and the Ryder Cup, ferrying participants as required. During April and May 2015, he was the man in control of Nicola Sturgeon's helicopter, as she made her way around Scotland on her general election campaign.

Nicola Sturgeon’s helicopter tour of Scotland

Some of the filming work for television has included adverts for Vodafone, Peugeot and Clydesdale Bank.

Peugeot 308 - Perfume

Clydesdale Bank - Current Account Switching Offer

Other programmes include the BBC's "Making the Kelpies", David Beckham's pilot for "Glen Affric Haig Club" and Bear Grylls / Ben Stiller pilot "Weekend in the Wild".

Further experience includes work with Scottish Natural Heritage (a week on Rum on their Red Deer Project), film pilot for the Commonwealth Games, the Great Scottish Swim Loch Lomond and Ryder Cup.

Experienced Pilot


John holds a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) licence from the UK with Instrument Rating and is current on multiple types. He maintains a private fixed wing licence also with night and Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) ratings.

With an impeccable safety record John has flown as aircraft Captain on many VVIP taskings including royal family visits and two G8 summits both home and abroad.

In 2015 John renewed his Helicopter Instrument Rating, promoted to Training Captain PDG Helicopters (on 3 types of helicopter - AS350 / AS 355 / AS365), and completed ongoing training at Battersea.

John was the original  Helicopter Sunday pilot

Helicopter Sunday

Remember back in 2005 when the Scottish League title was only decided on the last day of the season? Rangers were trailing Celtic by two points, they needed a win against Hibernian and were hoping Motherwell would beat Celtic at Fir Park. This presented a logistical challenge which John was on hand to assist with.

As the final destination of the league cup would only be know at full time, it was agreed that John would wait at a central location (Cumbernauld) and transport the cup to it's victors at the full time whistle.

In case you're not aware of the story, Celtic, having held a one goal lead for the majority of their match, were bitterly beaten by two late goals from Motherwell. Meanwhile in Edinburgh, Ranger triumphed by a goal over Hibernian, meaning they won the league title! John dutifully flew his helicopter east that afternoon.

The full story of events that day can be read in the book by Iain Stewart.

John on location

Aerial Filming

With an excess of over a hundred filming credits that grow yearly, John's aerial filming has included the most simple taskings using hand held video cameras or stills, to the complex helicopter camera systems used on major movie productions. John has worked on live sports events and commercials as well as TV shows including Monarch of The Glen, Bear Grylls Born Survivor, Monty Hall's Great Escape, 3 Men in a Boat to name but a few.

Since 2011 John has worked on a number of blockbuster movies in conjunction with the world acclaimed Flying Pictures of London.

Some aerial filming by John

Here's a video montage of some aerial filming over Western Scotland during 2011 where John was the helicopter pilot. Accompanying John on filming duties was aerial cameraman Pete Jones.

It was filmed using a Cineflex V14HD camera system fitted to the helicopter.

Camera filming systems

Here's a selection of shots showing some of the camera filming systems John has used when flying.

Some of the camera filming systems John has usedExperience of a wide range of camera filming systems