John A. Flinchum

John A. Flinchum

October 20, 1932 ~ April 24, 2021


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John passed away peacefully at his home on 24 April, 2021, at 88.

Beloved long term partner to Frances Clough; devoted father to, Russell (Abby), Randall (Susan) and Dawn (Larry) Compton; dearest grandfather to Ali (Joe), Shane (Eilleen), A.J. (Taylor), Buster (Andrea), Morgan, McKenzie, Dylan (Alex), Gunnar & 6 great grandchildren. John was proceeded in death by his former wife of 30 plus years Anita.

John graduated high school class of “51” and immediately joined the Navy. After a couple years of active duty, he was released to pursue an engineering degree under the G. I. Bill. He graduated from Georgia Tech with a BS in mechanical engineering in “58”. With his engineering degree he was accepted into the Navy’s “Aviation Officer Candidate” school.  After several months of intense physical & mental training, he was commissioned an “Ensign”, was taught to fly, and spent multiple tours on the USS Forrestal.  Following his aircraft carrier deployments, he was the commanding officer on a submarine performing reconnaissance work around Cuba prior to the “Bay of Pigs”.

When John came off active duty he joined the naval reserves and flew as navigator on P3 “Orion” anti-submarine aircraft for 17 years before retiring from the Navy as Lieutenant Commander. He also earned FAA certification (DER) and a was commercial flight instructor.

John’s post military career was always focused on aviation & engineering. He joined piper in 1966 as an engineer mainly involved on mechanical systems. Later he developed a few patents that are still in use today on light aircraft. After Piper, John was offered a significant position with Gulfstream Aerospace in Savanah GA to be head of “Mechanical Systems” group. He worked another dozen years on the GIII & GIV.

In “89” John was offered a position with “Aramco” oil company of Saudi Arabia where he worked before, during & after the Gulf War.

John always loved Vero Beach and eventually returned to continue his passion for aviation with the new Piper aircraft after a a brief stint in Japan as a consultant. He fully retired in his late 70’s and piloted his last aircraft on his 80th birthday.

John spent the last decade traveling the world with Fran.

He will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure to know him.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to VNA and Hospice Foundation, 1110 35th Lane Vero Beach, FL 32960, 772-978-5568

Arrangements by Thomas S. Lowther Funeral Home & Crematory, Vero Beach.


Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.


Mary Cone - Family Friend

April 28, 2021, 1:12 pm

May deepest sympathy to the family of Mr. Flinchum. Our thoughts and prayers are with Russell and Randall and all of the family.

Dan Callahan - Friend

April 28, 2021, 1:39 pm

We offer our Blessings, Love and Prayers. I enjoyed working with John from 1972 to 1982 at Piper Aircraft. He was a great engineer, friend and always had a great sense of humor. We offer our Prayers, Comfort to the family members. Love , Peace and Blessings

Tom Chytil - Friend and work colleague

April 28, 2021, 6:32 pm

John was a respected, skillful designer and engineer who was able to solve a variety of problems that can pop up during new aircraft projects. He was a great team leader who always looked out for his guys. I saw this in action at both Piper aircraft in Vero Beach and Gulfstream Aerospace in Savannah, Ga. My condolences to Fran, Dawn, Randy, Russell and their families.

Don & Martha Myles - Friend

April 28, 2021, 11:23 pm

John was an impressive person and my wife and I considered him to be a very dear friend. His obituary describes the very challenging story of the many accomplishments he carried out throughout his life. It was always a pleasure to spend time with him and reminisce about past happenings. We are deeply saddened by his passing and we will always remember him in a fond way. We offer our deepest sympathy to Fran and to all of John’s family.

Don & Martha Myles

Montreal, Quebec

Edward and Shirley Prowse - Friends

April 29, 2021, 1:16 am

Shirley and I met John through Fran. An amazing man who accomplished so much during his lifetime. Never at a loss for words, he could relate exact details of every story that he told. John was highly skilled and did so much for his Country and the Air industry. Enjoy your new wings John.

Georgina n Robert Alfert - Friends

April 29, 2021, 12:46 pm

Our deepest sympathy to Dawn, Russell and Randall. We enjoyed a long time friendship with him and Anita. John was responsible for getting me into Gulfstream Aerospace and allowed me to stay with him while I looked for my own place. We used to drive together back and forth from Savannah to Vero while I was working at Gulfstream. We will always remember our friendship.

Neil and Margaret Hockenhull - Friends

April 30, 2021, 2:19 pm

Very sad, too many great memories to mention that we had with John and Anita. Our thoughts are with you Dawn, Russell, Randall and families.

Catherine Measer - Friend

May 2, 2021, 5:32 pm

Trey and I met John many years ago when Fran and John came to visit us in Buffalo N.Y. We were immediately taken with his wonderful personality and kindness and had a lovely time with John and Fran while they spent an evening with our family. Our deepest sympathy to Fran and John’s family. John was an amazing man and beloved partner to Fran. He will be deeply missed to all that knew him. May our Lord hold him in the palm of His hand.

Suzanne and Dave van de Velde - Friends

May 2, 2021, 6:48 pm

Dear Fran and family. Our condolences and wish you the strength to deal with this sudden void in your life. John was an remarkable man and we know that you are proud of him. God Bless.

Russell D'Alba

May 2, 2021, 10:20 pm

Dear Fran and family, Marcia & I were saddened to hear of John’s passing. We were thrilled to have initially met him at Boston’s Logan airport, coincidentally while you two were world traveling ! Our deepest condolences.

Mary Claire Clough - Fran’s sister in law

May 2, 2021, 10:28 pm

Very sorry to hear the sad news. Fran was so pleased to have John in her life. He will be missed so much. Hope his family will get along with life quickly.

Jenny and Greg D’Alba - Friends

May 2, 2021, 11:19 pm

Dear Fran and family…our deepest sympathy to you. Sounds like John had an amazing and very full life. Please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. Love Jenny and Greg D’Alba

Mitchell Pearl

May 3, 2021, 1:23 pm

I had met John a few years ago through Fran. John had briefly mentioned he served in the Navy and as an officer on a submarine. John was very humble about his service. I did not know about his time as a naval aviator until reading his eulogy. As a son of a Naval Officer, I know all his friends and family will remember John with great pride and love.

John Nevils - Friend

May 6, 2021, 2:11 am

It was my privilege to work with John at Piper Aircraft during the design and development of the PiperJet proof-of-concept aircraft (2007-2008). He was very highly esteemed amongst the engineering team and a great inspiration to all of us engineers in the powerplant and mechanical systems group. You definitely needed to bring your A-Game when you worked with Mr. Flinchum! I considered the encouragement, mentorship and friendship of people like John Flinchum to be amongst the greatest fringe benefits of my career in the aerospace industry. My wife, Tammy, and I extend our sincere sympathy and prayers to John’s family and friends.

John A Flinchum - cousin

May 17, 2021, 11:25 pm

We only met John a few times, the last time was 28 years ago when we were able to get a photo of the three John Flinchums in the same room, John, our son John D. Flinchum, and myself. He kept in touch through the years from time to time sometimes sending us a photo of his dad and mine together. Our condolences to all of you. John A Flinchum and family

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