Sydney Jones, First Owner of Mooney Mite N4123
At the May 2007 WAMM Fly-In at Porterville, we were very pleased to have a surprise visit from Sydney Jones who had driven up from southern California with her son, Mark Youngson especially to see some Mites. We learned that she had a personal connection with Mooney Aircraft in the early days. These are her own words....
Right out of college (University of Kansas), my first teaching job was in La Jolla, California, at a private girls' school called The Bishops School. I taught my first year there and during that time my parents moved from El Dorado, Kansas, down to Kerrville, Texas, where the Mooney Aircraft Company had relocated from Wichita, Kansas. The air traffic in Wichita had gotten very congested because in Wichita there was also Boeing Aircraft, Beech Aircraft, and Cessna Aircraft. My Grandfather, C.G. Yankey, owned the Company and sent Bill Taylor, who was the chief test pilot for Mooney, out on a search to find a new place for the Plant to move to.
I spent that summer in Kerrville and actually worked for Mooney in the office. I can't say I was ever interested in flying but my Grandfather called one day and told me that if I would learn to fly I could have the next Mite that came off the assembly line. I learned to fly in an old Piper Cub and my instructor was a test pilot at Mooney by the name of Jimmy. As soon as I soloed, I called my Grandfather and he made good with his promise. Since I was at the factory, I would go over and help with my plane on the line. I knew most of the workers and they were nice to let me do some of the finishing touches. I made the transition from the Cub to the Mite easily since the Mite is such an easy plane to fly.
At this time, my brother, who was 4-1/2 years older, was a bombardier in the Air Force. We had not told him about my flying and when he came home for a visit we asked if he would like to go out to the Plant. It was a Sunday and we had arranged to have a key to let us all in. My Dad took him to the back of the plant while my Mom and I rolled out my plane and I gave it a prop. The two of them came out to the front of the building and I took the plane out to the landing strip. My brother said to my parents, "Isn't that cute that someone taught Syd how to taxi." About that time I came down the runway and he says, "Good grief, she had better watch out or she'll take off!" Needless to say, he was a bit shocked and went right back to where he was stationed, put in for pilot training, and ended-up being a Lt. Colonel.
My first cross-country was flying up to Wichita to see my Grandfather. After that, I would fly from Kerrville to San Diego. I have a few stories to tell about those flights but I think this is enough for now.
La Jolla, CA
Above photos by D. Rutherford, M. Harms
Here are some early photos sent to us by Syd....
"They dammed a small river on their farm property and created a wonderful lake where they spent many many days.
"My Grandmother loved to fish and my Grandfather loved to hunt.
"He was always talking about putting a small landing strip close to the lodge but never did it.
"Our vacations in the summer were usually spent out there so I became a fisherman and also learned how to shoot a gun — they gave me a single shot twenty-two and my Grandfather and I would shoot snakes and turtles."