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NEWS | Oct. 7, 2015

Utah Guard Army aviator first to reach 10,000 hours in Apache

By Lt. Col. Steven Fairbourn Utah National Guard

DRAPER, Utah - A Utah National Guard Army aviator was recognized as the senior Apache aviator in the world achieving more than 10,000 flying hours in the AH-64 helicopter at a ceremony conducted Sept. 30, in Mesa, Arizona, by Boeing at their Apache manufacturing plant.

Boeing, in coordination with the Defense Contract Management Agency, invited Chief Warrant Officer 5 Ken Jones, an Apache standardization instructor pilot from 1st Battalion, 211th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion in West Jordan, to recognize him for this never-before-achieved milestone of 10,000 flying hours in the Apache.

The 30th of September marked a historic 40 years for the Apache program, and given that Mr. Jones is the senior Apache aviator in the world, Boeing and others in the industry asked him to be the keynote speaker for the event.”

The continuity that the National Guard has provided me for the last 23 years has allowed me to develop an outstanding AH-64 Apache combat flying program, which has also allowed me to fly more than 10,000 flight hours in the AH-64,” said Jones.

“I have enjoyed every minute being in the Apache and the Utah Army National Guard. It has been a truly great opportunity and honor for me to serve my country in this capacity,” said Jones, who has served in four combat tours in the Middle East with 2,270 combat flight hours. One of these missions involved a night landing in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan to fly numerous special operations personnel to safety.

He has served with the Utah National Guard since 1992, following12 years of service with the active component.

The vast experience and knowledge of Jones was also utilized as he briefed the National Committee on the Future of the Army members during its evaluation of the Army Aviation Restructuring Initiative which, if unchanged, will reallocate all Apache helicopters to the active component of the Army.

Mr. Jones is a living example of the breadth and depth of experience the National Guard brings to the Army.

The 1-211th is one of many National Guard aviation attack reconnaissance battalions with a long history of excellence. Utah offers many unique training opportunities to include high-mountain, power-management training and immediate access to the Utah Test & Training Range-just a few examples of what makes Utah a tremendous training area.”

Chief Jones is a valued member of our organization who has demonstrated his patriotism and dedication every day during his more than 35 years of service,” said Maj. Gen. Jeff Burton, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard. “Men and women like this are the invaluable assets to our nation’s defense that will be squandered should the Army Restructuring Initiative take the Apaches from the Guard’s formations.”

The expertise and professionalism of Jones is contagious and multi-generational, as his son, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jared Jones, also serves in the Utah National Guard as an Army aviator.