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Flashback Fridays: The Fred J. Jones

Although our first Specialty Plane in a livery other than our unmistakable Desert Gold didn’t join the fleet until later in the decade, a select group of Employees instrumental in the success of our young Company were honored by having their name affixed to the nose of one of our birds.  And that’s exactly what happened 31 years ago this week when N96SW was dedicated as the Fred J. Jones.


Fred Jones was an original Employee hired as a Mechanic by Jack Vidal (our first Vice President of Maintenance) about a month before our first flight in 1971.  “He worked in the cold; he worked in the dark; he scrounged for parts; he improvised tools; he worked for low wages when we started; and he got the job done no matter what the circumstances.” said Herb.


At the posthumous dedication ceremony held on March 3, 1984, Fred’s wife and son joined Jack Vidal and Herb to unveil the 737-200 named in his memory.  Herb spoke to his memories for Fred, as did Jack when sharing a personal story about one of the President and Chairman of the Board’s (Herb) visit to the hangar.  Herb called ahead one night asking if it would be ok to visit the shop, to which Fred was happy to oblige, as long as it was brief and didn’t detract from the various mechanical tasks at hand.  And sure enough, being the talker that Vidal noted Herb to be, it was Fred that had to be the one to eventually tap the President on the shoulder to thank him for his visit and respectfully ask to depart so that the night crew could get back to fixing planes.