Marty Jones Marks 50th Year of Jumping
By Carol Jones
On March 7, Marty Jones, D-6397, celebrated 50 years of continuous skydiving by making several skydives with friends and family (including his wife, Selena Jones, and his stepmom, Carol Jones) at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. His father, Bill Jones, D-924, was in attendance cheering everyone on.
On March 7, 1970, just one day short of his 14th birthday, during the last phase of a total eclipse, Marty Jones made his first jump, a static-line, at the drop zone Vikings of Denmark owned by Woody Binnicker and Bobby Frierson in Barnwell, South Carolina. His dad was the jumpmaster (now called “instructor”). Marty used a Style Master harness-and-container system that his dad custom made for his mom, Kay Jones. The rig included a Mark II Para-Commander as the main canopy and a chest-mounted 26-foot conical for the reserve (both round parachutes and very revolutionary for the times). The rig also had a unique feature: a reserve-static-line system (a lanyard attached to the main riser that was affixed to the side of the harness and attached to the center-pull reserve ripcord handle) that his dad invented.
In August 1984, at the family drop zone in Antioch, California, Marty Jones (along with his dad and brother Jeff) was in the first class of tandem instructors that Strong Enterprises certified. At the time, a tandem skydive was drogueless, which limited freefall time since the instructor would deploy the parachute before reaching terminal velocity to avoid a brutally fast opening. As Strong began developing a drogue system (following a suggestion by Bill Jones), Marty was instrumental in helping test it.
Marty Jones has worked at, lived on, owned and operated skydiving centers for more than 50 years. His first job was packing parachutes at the drop zones his dad owned or managed, and he estimates he packed 400 Para-Commanders before he made his first jump. He has held nearly every license and rating one could hold in the skydiving industry, including USPA instructor ratings and Federal Aviation Administration rigger and pilot ratings. He has competed and earned gold medals on the world and national level in style and accuracy, 4-way formation skydiving and canopy formation. He holds numerous world formation skydiving records. He also served a term on the USPA Board of Directors. He is currently the para-loft manager at Complete Parachute Solutions in Coolidge, Arizona, which he says is the best industry job he has had to date.
Marty Jones has seen many changes in the sport over his 50 years of jumping, but one thing has not changed. When explaining what has kept him in the sport for 50 years, he said, “From the beginning, I have been fascinated with the miracle of human flight. Think about it: the things we do with fabric and string. I remain fascinated.”
Carol Jones | D-17918