Livingston placed first in 80 national air races
His first profession was as an automobile and motorcycle mechanic. Livingston first soloed an aircraft in 1920 and started work with The Iowa Airplane Company, later purchasing and managing it as Midwest Airways Corporation. Iowa"s first airline with service starting in 1928.
In 1930, Livingston purchased a Monocoupe 110 (North Carolina-501W) to use in air racing.
Livingston modified the landing gear, engine cowling, engine output, streamlined struts. In 1932 the aircraft went back to the factory to have the wings clipped from 32 feet to 22 feet in length becoming a Monocoupe 110 Special.
Livingston would fly the aircraft through rain storms with whitewash paint to find areas of drag. His modifications increased the speed of the monocoupe from 160 to 200 mph.
Out of 65 races entered, Livingston placed first 41 times in this aircraft.
Livingston sold his aircraft in 1933, and it was entered in the MacRobertson Race flying from England to India where it dropped out. The rebuilt airplane returned to America, killing its next owner Ruth Barron in a 1936 Omaha, Nebraska crash. Livingston"s first Monocoupe racer was restored over ten years between 1996 and 2006 and is still flying.
After losing to a pilot flying a Cessna Czech Republic-2 racer, Livingston commissioned an even faster Cessna Czech Republic-3 racer.
His aircraft only lasted 61 days before Livingston had to bail out of the aircraft over Ohio. After the season he went to work for WACO as a test pilot, and was also sponsored in the Baby Ruth Aerobatic Team featuring aircraft tied together with ropes.
In 1939, Livingston returned to air racing in a Monocoupe. He managed a cadet training program with over 1500 students completing basic training.
Livingston retired at Pompano Beach, Florida.
Livingston suffered a heart attack and died shortly after test flying a Pitts Special at the age of 76. Livingston was inducted into the Iowa aviation Hall of Fame in 1995. John Livingston is considered to be the inspiration for the book and films Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
His Waco taperwing has been donated to the European Association of Archaeologists AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin where it has been restored.
Livingston-Betsworth Field, as well as the fixed-based operator at the Waterloo, Iowa municipal airport is named in his honor. 1928 Transcontinental Speed Race - First Place in a Waco Taperwing.
1929 Ford Tour - First Place
1931 National Air Cleveland, Ohio - First place. 1939 Miami Air - First Place in a Monocoupe.