Marine Corps Air Station Miramar / 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing


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Educators, commanders, liaisons gather for School Liaison Program conference


Pilot, plane reunited after 58 years


Story by Sgt. Raquel Barraza

Pilot, plane reunited after 58 years ESCONDIDO, Calif. – A Former Navy pilot was reunited with a plane he ejected from more than 50 years ago at Rancho Guejito in Escondido, Calif., Feb. 5.

While conducting a familiarization flight in the San Diego skies in 1957, Robert F. Jones, a navy pilot with then Attack Squadron (VA) 146, ejected from his aircraft not knowing where it landed.

“Frankly, it’s very emotional because all pilots love their airplanes,” said Jones.

The FJ-4B Fury was found a few years ago on Rancho Guejito by cowhands after several fires had thinned the brush in the area exposing what was left of the plane.

After discovering the wreckage, Hank Rupp, chief operations officer and general counsel for the ranch, received more information about the plane from a former aviation accident investigator with the Israeli army.

“He said this aircraft is from an aircraft carrier and there is only one [organization] that deals with carriers around here and that is the Navy,” said Rupp.

The ranch contacted Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., which was a naval air station in 1957 at the time of the crash.

“I got a call from the ranch saying they had a plane on the property and wanted to know if we wanted to come and inspect it to see if it belongs to us,” said Lt. Col. Thomas Frederick, executive officer of MCAS Miramar.

The air station brought an investigation team as well as experts from the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum who traced the plane by serial number, lead to the discovery of the pilot that ejected from the aircraft, added Frederick.

Ranch officials tracked down Jones, who flew as a commercial pilot for United Airlines for 31 years after the military, and arranged for him to be reunited with his plane.

Jones, his wife and son arrived at the ranch in awe of the wreckage. It was a relief for Jones to know the aircraft’s final resting place.

“Well the main concern you have when you eject like that is you don’t know where it’s going to [crash]; you just don’t want it harming anyone on the ground,” said Jones. “Once they found the plane I didn’t have to be concerned with that anymore.”

Pilots currently with Jones’ Navy squadron, now Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, and Frederick also accompanied his visit to the ranch to share in the excitement of the reunion.

“It’s a great story,” said Frederick. “The irony is if he hadn’t survived this, his son wouldn’t be here today.”

While looking at what was left, Jones took a small piece from the wreckage as a souvenir and greatly expressed his gratitude to the ranch.

“It goes beyond belief that Hank and Rancho Guejito would spend this many resources on getting us here, and we truly appreciate it,” said Jones. “It’s wonderful.”

During his time in California, Jones also visited MCAS Miramar and spoke with Marine and Navy pilots.

“It’s good to give perspective on where we are now and some of the early work that some of these really brave men and women did,” said Frederick.

Although Jones is now retired, he plans to continue to fly for fun for as long as he possibly can.

Recent Publications

Flight Jacket  - 07.01.2013
Flight Jacket - 07.01.2013
July 2013 edition of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Flight Jacket.
Flight Jacket  - 06.03.2013
Flight Jacket - 06.03.2013
June 2013 edition of the MCAS Miramar Flight Jacket
Flight Jacket  - 05.06.2013
Flight Jacket - 05.06.2013
May 6th edition of the Flight Jacket
Flight Jacket  - 04.01.2013
Flight Jacket - 04.01.2013
April 2013 edition of the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Flight Jacket
Flight Jacket  - 03.04.2013
Flight Jacket - 03.04.2013
March, 2013 edition of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Flight Jacket.
Flight Jacket  - 02.04.2013
Flight Jacket - 02.04.2013
February 2013 edition of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Flight Jacket


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