Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tom Jones Returns with Cockpit Full of Trophies

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tom Jones Returns with Cockpit Full of Trophies

Article excerpt

When Tom Jones took fifth place in the free-style competition of the recent World Aerobatic Championships in Canada, it was just a fluke.

The Oklahoma City flier proved that last month in Denison, Texas when he beat the reigning two-time national champion and the reigning world champion to bring home a cockpit full of trophies.

Jones, director of Aerospace America, Oklahoma City's premier air show, took all honors in the National Aerobatic Championships with a last-ditch come-from-behind effort.

After three rounds of competition, Jones was readying for what he considered his best event, the four-minute inventive freestyle.

"That, basically," he said, "is where all the air show routines are made up, you just go up and do what you'e big enough to do. It's just four minutes of showing off, and some people say that's what I do best."

Going into that final round, Jones was 130 points behind Henry Haig, who won the world competition only a month earlier. In third place, only a few points behind Jones, was Clint McHenry, the two-time defending national champion.

"I felt like I really didn't have much chance," Jones said. "Nobody else gave me very good odds of winning either, for it's hard to make up 130 points in just one flight.

"But I knew if I would just fly like I wanted to, I'd have a chance.

"I also knew I'd have to make the best flight of my life just to hang in there, for when you've got the national champ on your tail and the world champ leading you, it's kind of awesome."

Two hours before take off, Jones took time to write out his routine and put in two new maneuvers which judges had never seen before.

"I'd done all these moves individually before," he said, "this was just the first time that I ever strung them together this way. What I was trying to do was put together something radical, something dramatic for four complete minutes.

"Most pilots in the competition will put in one or two dramatic maneuvers and the rest of the flight, they just make routine. They do it good, but it's not realy dramatic.

"I wanted to do something to knock their socks off and make them notice me. I wanted to be dramatic."

His routine punished plane and pilot, pushing his S2S-J bi-plane to the edge of the flight envelope. Jones' dramatic performance netted him the men's national championship title, first place in the free-style event and the most number of points ever recorded in the history of the competition.

For his performance, he received a trophy to bring home and inscribed tags on two championship trophies kept permanently in the Experimental Aircraft Association headquarters in Oshkosh, Wis. and two gold medals. He received engraved plaques with photos of the trophies housed in Wisconsin.

The routine which won consisted of a vertical flight with a spin and as Jones reached the apogee of the flight, he began a tumbling motion, tail over propeller, for two complete revolutions, righting the aircraft aftter a 2,000-foot fall in straight and level flight. …

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