[Possibly emigrated to Canada aged 11 in 1912]
RFC in WWI; an instructor at Manston, Kent
He "taught Sir Alan Cobham to fly":
Sir Alan Cobham, famous British Airman, was taught to fly by a Winnipeg man, James Holley - The Winnipeg Tribune, 17 Jan 1927
They met again during Sir Alan arrived in Winnipeg en route to the Pacific Coast and had a chat about 'the good old days'.
m. 1921 Anna [Sparling] in Winnipeg
Owned a 1927 DH Moth, G-CAIL, which later became part of Western Canada Airways' fleet. He also acquired G-CANO, a 1928 Avro Avian III, from WCA.
He was involved in an aeroplane and car tour from Saint Paul to Winnipeg tour in 1928:
"The delegation, led by Captain J. H. Holley, air pilot for the Western Canada Airways corporation, made arrangements for the international goodwill tour, the Canadians pledging their support and co-operation and offering the hospitality of Winnipeg during the first of the Crookston group.
Captain Holley, considered one of the best pilots in Canada, declared he would fly down to take part in the Crookston air derby and would be accompanied by at least one other ship from his company."
In 1930, he was Sales Manager of the Detroit Aircraft Co. He flew a Lockheed Vega to break the commercial speed record at Felts Field; Washngton; "he expects to exceed a speed of 185 miles per hour."
Sailed back to Montreal on 5 October 1941 with fellow ATA pilots Clark Trumbull, Constant Wilson, William Englander, John Sleeper, Walter Lewis, Vernon Meyer, Marvin Tuxhorn, Herbert Termaine, Willie Crews and Leland Lloyd