Air Vice Marshal John Ponsonby OBE
Air Vice-Marshal John Maurice Maynard Ponsonby, OBE (8th August 1955 – 21st October 2022) was a British businessman and a senior officer of the Royal Air Force
Ponsonby was born on 8th August 1955 to Myles Ponsonby (1924–1999) and Ann Maynard.Charles Ponsonby, 2nd Baron deMauley, was his great-great-grandfather. He has two sisters.
After graduating from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Royal Green Jackets as a second lieutenant on 8th March 1975. He was promoted to lieutenant on 8th March 1977, and to captain on 8th September 1981. He relinquished his commission on 7th March 1983, therefore retiring from the British Army.
Ponsonby was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in April 1983 as a pilot, after nine years service as an infantry officer in the British Army. On 10th April 1983, he was appointed to a permanent commission and promoted to flight lieutenant with seniority from 10th March 1980.
On 1st July 1988, he was promoted to squadron leader, and then to wing commander on 1st January 1994, As a group captain, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1999 New Year Honours, and was made an aide-de-camp to Queen Elizabeth II on 1st August 2001. He relinquished this appointment on 3rd May 2002, being promoted to air commodore on 1st July that year. Ponsonby was also awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the 2002 Operational Honours List “in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Northern Ireland during the period 1st October 2001 to 31 March 2002”. He was promoted to his final rank of air vice marshal on 4th January 2005.
Ponsonby served as a support helicopter pilot throughout his career, and as a helicopter and tactics instructor. He commanded No. 78 Squadron in the Falkland Islands, No. 27 Squadron in the UK, the Support Helicopter Force in Bosnia and RAF Aldergrove/Joint Helicopter Force in Northern Ireland.
Ponsonby held staff appointments at group, command and ministry level, including as deputy principal staff officer to the Chief of the Defence Staff (General Sir Charles Guthrie), and latterly as air officer plans at Headquarters Strike Command.
Ponsonby was a graduate of the RAF Staff College and the Joint Service Command and Staff College.
Ponsonby was appointed air officer commanding Training Group on 4th January 2005 and became air officer commanding No. 22 (Training) Group on 30th October 2006.
It was announced on 16th January 2007 that Ponsonby was to be chief of staff operations, Headquarters Air Command, from July 2007. He chose instead to leave military service to take a commercial role as senior vice president training, AgustaWestland.
Ponsonby was married to Marie Jose Antoinette Van Huizen-Husselson from 1980. They had three children, Charlotte Emma (born 1982), Luke Myles William (born 1986) and Francesca Sarah (born 1986).
Ponsonby died from cancer on 21st October 2022, at the age of 67.
RGJA – Regimental obituary about an officer whose career took him from Rifleman to Captain in the Army, to air rank in the RAF and then on to considerable success in the aviation industry.Such is the case occasioned by the sad death of Air Vice-Marshal John Ponsonby OBE on 21 October 2022 at the age of 67.
In 1974 John followed a family tradition by joining the Green Jackets. He started his service as a Rifleman, won a commission through the ranks and passed out of RMAS in 1975. He was posted to the 2nd Battalion shortly before it left Catterick for Gibraltar, where he commanded 10 Platoon. He showed himself to be a super-fit, very professional platoon commander with the highest standards. In 1977 he was posted to the Depot and served as a platoon commander in Junior Riflemen’s Company. As an accomplished skier John was a member of the Army downhill team.
The first of his career changes took place when John was selected for pilot training and, once qualified, flew with 4th Regiment Army Air Corps. In 1982 his exceptional flying skills became evident when he won the British Forces Helicopter Championship. John was clearly a brilliant aviator and when his Short Service Commission came to an end in March 1983 he joined the RAF as a Flight Lieutenant. Here, with aircraft as the raison d’etre of the whole Service, he was able to fly more powerful and operationally more significant machines. It seems that he so impressed the RAF with his flying skills that he had to resist pressure to convert him into a fast-jet pilot.
Helicopters were at the heart of John’s life and his RAF service included command of a squadron in the Falkland Islands, operations in Bosnia and command of the Chinook Squadron at Odiham.Within the space of sixteen years, he had become a Group Captain, been awarded the O.B.E. and as Station Commander at RAF Aldergrove, he became an ADC to Queen Elizabeth II. It is worth refecting that throughout this stage of his career his work was constantly integrated into land operations, the Army could not have wished for a better supporter in the cockpit. By 2002 John was an Air Commodore and in the same year, he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service for ‘gallant and distinguished service in Northern Ireland’.In 2005 he became an Air Vice-Marshal and was appointed as the Air Officer Commanding No22 (Training) Group in 2006.
Although an out and out helicopter man, John had to do his time on the staff. He held some very challenging appointments including Deputy Principal Staff Officer to the then CDS, General Sir Charles Guthrie. He was a graduate of the RAF Staff College and the Joint Services Command & Staff College where he attended the prestigious Higher Command and Staff Course. Clearly on his way to the top, John was offered a key staff appointment in Headquarters Air Command in 2007, but by then it was time to prove himself outside the Armd Forces.
John’s departure from the RAF to pursue a career in the aviation business revealed again his thirst for a challenge, his single-mindedness, determination and dedication. He had a distinguished record with Augusta-Westland (now Leonardo), ending his spell there as Managing Director of the British Helicopter HQ and plant at Yeovil. After this he took on a portfolio of interests including the chair of AIM-listed training technology company Pennant International Group and a number of specialist projects which included mentoring young entrepreneurs. He was a Trustee of the Sherborne Area Schools Trust a multi-academy trust with 17 schools and more than 5000 students. His love of flying was undiminished, he was training to fly a powered paraglider and had planned a course in Spain in the month that he died so unexpectedly.
John was a particularly kind man, modest and approachable, but this was complemented by steely determination and boundless energy.He was great company and always willing to help others, testified by the range of commitments he took on after leaving Leonardo. When his whole career is reviewed, his service with the Regiment is only a small part of a remarkable life. But his time in the Army established the foundations for his future.As a helicopter pilot his experience as a young infantry officer made him acutely conscious of the demands on his passengers and the importance of his cargo. Throught his life he maintained many of his Regimental friendships and his sister Emma is married to Bryn Parry, a fellow Rifleman.
John was devoted to and intensely proud of his wife, Cé a talented landscape and portrait artist, their three children, Charlotte, a chef and writer, Luke, a civilian helicopter pilot and Francesca (Checca), a stage manager at English National Opera. In recent years John took a real delight in his three grandchildren. He is survived by his mother and two sisters. The Regiment offers his family and his many devoted friends, its deepest condolences at a life taken from them far too soon. We are proud to have contributed to the development of an exceptional officer who served his country with such gallantry and distinction.
Sourced fron Wikipedia
RGJA – Regimental obituary credited to the RGJA