The couple that flies together
By Senior Airman Christopher Thornbury, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 31, 2016
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Love and life can take two people on incredible adventures and to feelings of new heights while forging a heritage with one another, especially when the two are pilots.
For Maj. Matthew Jones and Capt. Chrystina Jones, love found them as C-130 Hercules pilots and, over the years, gave them a different set of wings as KC-135 Stratotanker pilots and even added two more to their aircrew, their son and daughter.
The couple are relatively new to the KC-135, qualifying 14 months ago. Although a different mission brought them together, Matt relates his past and present with his wife and the tanker as it approaches its 60-year anniversary of its first flight.
“Chrystina and I share history together,” said Matthew. “The KC-135 has its own great history, it is just incredible for us to be a part of it.”
Before marriage, the couple were in the same squadron as C-130 pilots where they trained together. While they never operated a mission together they did deploy with each other for five months to Iraq. As tanker pilots they are assigned to different squadrons; Matt is a “Bandit” of the 349th Air Refueling Squadron and Chrystina is a “Raven” of the 350th ARS.
During the transition from propellers to jets, the Jones’s went to KC-135 pilot training together where they leaned on one another to become successful students all while raising their son. They would go on walks while studying and test each other often.
Although the job can be difficult at times, both being pilots on the same aircraft makes it easier to comprehend what the other is going through.
“It makes it easier to talk about what’s going on at work because we understand very intimately what’s going on in terms of the struggles to make the mission happen,” said Chrystina. “We understand each other’s challenges better than most.”
Chrystina admits that having a full-time job, especially with a pilot’s schedule, while raising a two-year-old and a four-month-old is not easy, but enjoys flying the Stratotanker and the community who is involved with it.
“It is difficult being dual-military with two children,” said Chrystina. “We take it day-by-day, and enjoy the aircraft. My last flight I went in the back with the boom and watched the refueling. Watching the aircraft approach and seeing how close they get to us gives me an appreciation for how awesome the mission set is and what we are actually doing. As pilots, we are upfront focusing on our speed and altitude so much we don’t realize the magic that is going on in the back. It is incredible.”
The KC-135 has grabbed the attention of their son while soaring above. “He is getting really excited about aircraft,” said Chrystina. “Every day when we leave the Child Development Center he points out the airplanes and says he wants to fly airplanes.”
Chrystina and Matt have had other assignments with Air Mobility Command transporting personnel and cargo. Now, as tanker pilots, they have experienced AMC’s mission full circle.
“By chance we had the opportunity to crossflow to the KC-135, which brought me back home,” said Chrystina, a Wichita, Kansas native. “I’m really proud to be a part of the refueling mission, something that has been a part of my hometown for so long.”