Jan Flinterman

Jan Flinterman was 20 years old when the Germans invaded his native Holland in 1940. At the time he was an officer in the Dutch Air Force and when he reached England he was taken on by the Royal Air Force to fly fighters. Trained as a Spitfire pilot, he flew with the RAF's 126 Squadron in Malta and earned the nickname "Crazy Flinn" with his exploits.

When Holland's Prince Bernhard, a German who had married into the Dutch royal family, finally convinced the British to allow him to start a Dutch squadron, Flinterman was one of the pilots who joined the new 322 (Dutch) Squadron in the summer of 1943. It was known as Polly Grey, after the squadron's African Grey parrot mascot, Flinterman stayed until May 1944 when he moved to 222 Squadron as a Flight Lieutenant and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross after a huge dogfight over Paris. By the end of the war he had also been awarded Holland's Order of Orange-Nassau and the Vliegerkruis (Flying Cross).

As soon as the war was over Flinterman switched to Meteors jets and eventually transferred from the RAF to become a major in the Royal Dutch Air Force, becoming the commanding officer of the country's Fighter Pilot School and setting a number of Dutch national speed records.

In 1950 he began to race, using a Cooper-BSA Formula 3 car. This led to a chance in 1952 to become the first Dutchman to race in the Formula 1 World Championship. He competed in the Dutch GP at the wheel of a Maserati rented from Escuderia Bandeirantes. After his own car broke down he took over Chico Landi's similar machine and finished ninth. It was his only Grand Prix race and he went back to aviation. By the 1960s he had become a member of the board of Martin's Air Charter, a company which became Martinair Holland in 1968. Flinterman died in Leiden in Holland in 1992 at the age of 73.