Jackson Barrett Mahon, a.k.a. Barry Mahon, born in Santa Barbara, California on 5 February 1921, learned to fly while in high school. In 1941 he joined the Royal Air Force and by the winter was flying combat with No. 121 (Eagle) Squadron, composed of American volunteers. Pilot Officer Mahon damaged three German fighters, two FW-190s in April and an Me-109 in May, before scoring his first confirmed victories of two FW-190s, downed in the St. Omer area, on June 8th, 1942. On 31 July he destroyed two more FW-190s over the Berck-Sur-Mer area and became an Ace while covering the commando raid on Dieppe, 19 August 1942, his 98th strategic fighter pilot mission. At 0830, flying his Spitfire Vb, nicknamed “Barry,” Mahon shot down an FW-190 and another FW-190 before his plane was hit and he was forced to bail out of the burning ship. Landing in the sea, he was taken prisoner. Although Mahon filed a claim for shooting down two Germans that day, he was only given credit for one after the war. Thus, for a tally-record of five confirmed, two probables, three damaged, and other brave and heroic deeds, Mahon received the British Distinguished Flying Cross in 1985.
At Stalag Luft III Mahon worked on the tunnels made famous by the movie The Great Escape (1963). He had escaped before that breakout, but was captured on the Czech border when his feet became too sore to go on. He escaped later only to be recaptured and was finally liberated by Patton’s 3rd Army in 1945. The part played by Steve McQueen in the movie was loosely based upon Mahon. After the war he became the personal pilot for, and later the manager of, Errol Flynn. Having produced a number of Flynn and Gina Lollobrigida pictures, as well as a considerable output of children’s programs, Mahon established The Production Machine, a high-tech film production company in Hollywood, making motion pictures for theatrical and television release. Mahon was the first movie producer to adapt and apply computer technology (as well spreadsheet applications, such as MultiPlan) to the breakdown, scheduling, budgeting and financial analysis of feature-length motion pictures and movies-of-the-week for Columbia Pictures. Barry is the father of Columbia/CBS producer Doris Keating (Passion Flower (1986), My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Legend of Errol Flynn (1985), Leaving Home (1996), A Touch of Scandal (1984), Stranded (1986)) and was a mentor to producer/director James Jaeger for over 15 years before he passed away in 1999.