Jesse Jones Composite Squadron 304
Civil Air Patrol, Lancaster, PA
Just who was Jesse Jones, the intrepid aviator who founded and commanded Squadron 304 in 1942 at the outset of World War II when Civil Air Patrol was in its infancy?
Captain Jones began flying a World War I Curtis JN-4 (Jenny) he rebuilt from a wreck at age 21. After just two hours of instruction, he flew the Jenny home to his dad’s farm in Chester, practicing landings along the way. He soon drew crowds, and before he knew it was taking passengers on $2 rides his very first day as a barnstorming pilot. He was soon barnstorming all over Pennsylvania, gaining the reputation of a fearless – but safe and dependable – pilot.
When the City of Lancaster opened its first airport on Manheim Pike in 1927, it asked Jesse Jones to locate his “Lancaster Airways” there. In no time Jones was flying charter and giving instruction at Lancaster’s first airport. He continued to fly air shows all over the state, winning awards for his many piloting skills.
Lancaster City and County built the new Lancaster Municipal Airport in 1935 and named Jones as Airport Manager. “Pappy Jones” continued to operate his air service, adding crop-dusting to his many services. Before World War II he was training pilots for the Navy.In the late 1930s Jones added test pilot to his resume, testing an assortment of propellers for Everel Propeller Company, continuing to run his flying school, crop dusting, and charter airline service.
Everel Corporation merged with Koppers Company after the war and Jones moved to Baltimore, MD at the invitation of Koppers. Corp. Jones flew Koppers corporate aircraft all over the country until he retired in 1961 at age 65.
He and his family couldn’t wait to move back to Lancaster where he made a busy living offering flight instruction at all levels. By 1962 Jones had a wife, Reba,
whom he had married right out of high school, and three teenage daughters.
Among Jones’ students at the new Lancaster Airport were his three daughters: Helen, Jessie and Carolyn. All three became pilots and performed at air shows with him.
Jesse Jones died in August 1994 at the age of 97.
Article by Bob Button