On a bright, clear day, a man in blue overalls came to collect us and guided us through a vast military base.
After being waved through by the guard there was no indication that a few hundred feet away was where a staggering variety of planes were kept and looked after.
We waited to cross the runway while an army helicopter was about to take off and just across from us stood the huge hangar on the St Athan base in the Vale of Glamorgan.
It was then that we met John Sparks, owner of Horizon Aviation, and a man terrified of flying.
Chatting in his office full of aviation trinkets and models, John was clearly happy to talk about his passion for planes.
He took us into the hangar to see them first hand. The sheer vastness of the space hits you as soon as you walk through, amplified by the small, dark corridor beforehand.
It was hard to know what to look at first – there were planes everywhere.
Filled with private jets, fighter planes and even a Russian aerobatic aircraft, this is the large hangar in Wales where dentists and businessmen come to get their planes repaired.
It’s home to millions of pounds worth of planes and is owned by a war veteran who is in fact terrified of flying.
John bought Horizon Aviation almost 20 years ago. He has transformed it into one of the largest aviation aircraft engineering and flight training companies in the UK.
The hangar on the St Athan Ministry of Defence (MoD) base is where the planes come from across the world to be repaired and tested. Some have even been bought off the internet.
John, 59, who served in the Gulf War, said: “All of the people who own planes here have different reasons and backgrounds.
“We have got aeroplane pilots who own jets, a syndicate who jointly own one, a dentist and a businessman who uses his plane to fly to meetings.”
John, who owns two military jets himself, said the reason people want to own such a piece of kit is simple.
“A lot of the ex-military guys still want to get that buzz they had when they were serving, and it’s the same for the civilians who have lots and lots of money.
“Anyone can buy a jet, they’re available on the internet. We specialise in that, we take them from museums.
“And we’ve restored aircraft that were ground training vehicles.”
When we went in search of Horizon Aviation, the hangar wasn’t easy to reach.
It is based on an MoD site, and after providing ID to a guard, we were handed passes and asked to wait until someone from Horizon could collect us.
We were then driven in convoy through the base to reach the slightly scruffy looking hanger which appeared completely nondescript with no indication of what was inside.
With around 50 planes inside, one of the most impressive is the huge Gulfstream IV private jet worth around £12.5m.
Sent to the hangar for some checks that needed to be carried out, the jet looms over the smaller propeller powered planes tucked underneath its wings that stretch 77ft wide.
Once we were inside the hangar, John’s passion for the planes became clear. Quickly answering every question about each of the planes, John detailed their history, what they were like to fly and how easy they were to maintain.
It wasn’t always easy to hear John as his team of experienced engineers tested a plane’s propeller just outside the huge hangar doors and the radio echoed through the building.
Despite all of this, John admits he is terrified of flying.
“I hate flying. Hate it. I hate heights. I did fly to Blackpool and back the other week because it was quicker but I avoid it if I can.
“I fly commercial of course because you have to but I don’t like it.”
The vast hangar is packed full of planes with teams of men tending to and testing a variety of aircraft.
Just walking from one end of the 40,000 square foot hangar requires ducking and weaving around the numerous planes.
John said: “We build our own planes here too. We take the ones that are a bit ropey and then we do them up.
“It’s much cheaper to do it that way, there’s plenty of parts out there.
“It is a bit daunting but we look after them as if I was flying them or if my daughter was.
“At the end of the day it’s me that signs the bit of paper to say it’s safe to fly. The buck stops with me.”
Although clearly enthusiastic about each of the planes in the hangar John admits it’s not an easy job.
He said: “Me and my wife work seven days a week. It is a full-time job and it’s very stressful.
“If I did it all over again I wouldn’t do this.”
In one corner of the hangar sits various propeller planes used by the company’s flying school, all named after John’s grandchildren, sister and daughter.
John said: “We teach people to go from zero to hero here. Anyone can learn to fly. You can start at 15 and be flying solo by the time you’re 17.
“We try to get everyone to enjoy it. We are not a shirt and tie kind of place that you might expect a flying school to be, just so that people feel more relaxed.”
Aspiring pilots are taught by a number of instructors, including a Boeing 737 freight pilot and former paratrooper Neil Boyles.
Operational manager Neil, 45, from Caerphilly, said: “We had a girl that just passed who did the training during her break from university.
“We have got a variety of people and ages who come here.
“The average time it takes to complete the course is around nine months and so far nobody at the school has failed.”
John said he and a friend now plan to open an aviation museum in the near future, housing some of the historic planes they own.