Up Close & Personal
name: Joey Jones
family & marital staus: Single
number of jumps: 10,000
years in Sport: 28
teams: FX 1995-2003
favorite competition: U.S. Nationals 1995
funniest moment in skydiving: Kyle Collins coming from Georgia to Sebastian FX in 1996 being surprised by a superfast key by FX veteran Dawn: "Could you hold the exit for a minute, so I can see what it looks like?" Dawn: "That's what it looks like!"
skydiving mentor(s): Bob Walker, former manager at Skydive Arizona who turned me on to 4-way and helped me reach my full potential.
hobbies: Climbing, Sailing, Investing.
favorite book(s): The Alchemist, by Paolo Coehlo.
favorite music: All kinds of music performed with soul.
favorite place: Wherever I am right now.
Where will you be ten years from now? Not at a drop zone, probably sailing around the world.
best kept secret: I never graduated off student status.
"Live in light, grow in wisdom, and express with love."
A static line skydive had a big impact on Joey Jones. As a matter of fact, that first skydive changed the course of his life forever. Jones was on active duty with the Marines in 1989 when he made his first static line skydive in Normon, Oklahoma. He was hooked.
Jones continued to learn to skydive and became a fun jumper with his military colleagues. As a reservist after active service was over, Jones enrolled in college to pursue his education. But college just wasn't exciting enough and it soon took a back seat to his passion - skydiving. In 1991 Jones made the decision to quit school and move to the drop zone, Adventure AeroSports in Hollister, CA.
With about 200 jumps, Jones knew what he wanted and would do anything to skydive. Life was not easy when he was not skydiving. Living on a drop zone means giving up certain extravagances. Jones was packing parachutes and cleaning toilets just to earn money and his residence consisted of a maintenance closet. But, by 1992 Jones had become a full time skydiver and had earned his AFF, tandem and rigger ratings. Jones could also shoot video. Becoming restless, he started traveling around to different drop zones. Jones made his contacts within the industry and in 1993 was hired to run the school in Eloy.
He attended his first national competition in 1994 with Joe Hallacy, Pat McGowan and Tony Uragallo. The four formed a pick-up team just to compete. Back at Eloy, Jones was tiring of his work. In 1994, Eloy was also home to the new team of Arizona Airspeed and Jones wanted to go for the same kind of success he saw in Airspeed's future. Jones teamed up with Dawn English, Marshal Clark and Volkmar Von-Selen to form the team Arizona Air FX in 1995. The FX tradition that would be a part of Jones' life for the next five years was born.
While the team only had 225 jumps that year, they finished fourth place at the U.S. Nationals with a 15 point average. In 1996, Jones and English moved from Arizona to Skydive Sebastian and Dave Timko and Kyle Collins were added to the team. After 325 jumps that year, FX finished third at the nationals with a 16.7 average. Neither Jones nor the team competed in 1997. Jones and English had tried unsuccessfully to join the Airspeed project. They finished out the year coaching and searching for the right team members for the next year.
These words are the FX creed. And these words reflect better than anything else the personality and the dedication to competitive skydiving of Joey Jones, co-founder of the "Generation FX".
In 1998, Christopher Irwin from Team Perris and a newcomer to competition, Doug Park, joined Jones and English. They decided it was time to kick training into high gear and moved the team to the Skydive Space Center in Titusville, Florida. With 600 jumps that year, FX won the gold at the World Cup of Formation Skydiving realizing a 20 point average in over 11 rounds of competition. Introducing their own FX style to the competitive skydiving world, they upset the French national 4-way team at this competition.
Only Arizona Airspeed, the defending world champion, was not present at the World Cup. The legendary Airspeed 4-way team with Jack Jefferies, Dan BC, Kirk Verner and Mark Kirkby would be waiting at the U.S. Nationals that year. FX went on to the U.S. Nationals with the hope of winning and being able to represent the United States at the World Meet in 1999. It would have been a great accomplishment in their first year as a team. However, Airspeed's experience prevailed and FX had to settle for the silver medal.
Jones and his generation FX was not tired yet. When Dawn English moved to alternate because of work commitments in 1999, Neal Houston from Arizona Airspeed's farm team joined the team in English's slot. With about 650 training jumps, FX finished third at the U.S. Nationals with their highest average of 20.3 points. But the team personnel changed again after these nationals. Irwin and Houston both moved back to the west coast. Houston got a slot in the new Airspeed Vertical team while Irwin joined Airspeed Zulu. The former team mates had become competitors all of a sudden. Jones was not too surprised anymore. It had happened many times to him that he had brought his current team members up to speed and performance, and then they would leave for a better opportunity.
Jones and Park decided to rejoin with two familiar competitors in 2000. English returned to the team full time, and Timko, from the 1996 FX team, also returned. In the interim, Timko had been with Airspeed for two years and was returning to competition after a one year hiatus. In 2000 the team headquarters also changed locations and moved to DeLand. At the 2000 U.S. Nationals, the team averaged 20.7 to win the silver medal. And again it would be Airspeed going to the World Championship in 2001. FX still competed at the World Cup in 2000 where they finished on fifth place with an average of 19.7 points.
The year 2001 may turn out to be a turning point for Jones. English had once again left the team to concentrate on her job. Timko also had to bow out because of health problems. That left Jones and Park looking for two teammates. Two very capable members were found in Niklas Hemlin and Gary Smith and they committed to FX 2001. The team, however, never got the necessary sponsorship to get off the ground. Jones said he had already spent too much money of his own in the past. Park finally decided to be open for new ideas regarding future teams and built a team with Smith and Solly Williams. As members of the South African national team, Equanimity, Smith and Williams won the bronze medal at the 1997 World Championship.
The new 3-way was looking for the fourth member and finally found the perfect fit when Jones decided to continue. Magic may now become the new magic word. The new team plans on a very casual training schedule this year. Williams and Smith have a commitment through the U.S. Championship 2001 with their current team, Optic Nerve. Magic will not be allowed to compete at this year's nationals as the rules do not allow competitors to compete for two different teams. But Magic is looking ahead to the future. The 2002 U.S. Nationals will be the qualification event to the World Championship in 2003. With former team and long-term coaching commitments coming to an end, there will be more time for training. All four of the Magic team mates are currently working in the industry as coaches.
Jones has always enjoyed coaching and finding people that he can bring up to the highest level of skydiving. He had always stayed with FX to go his own way with his own ideas. Jones said that throughout the years, other teammates had left for better opportunities, free jumps and competing with already well-established teams. He had been a founding member and longest continual member of the Generation FX. While the FX project may have come to the end of the road, Jones may get closer to his ultimate goal - winning the world championship. With "Magic", he will not have to train anybody to get up to speed. Magic will begin with very high speed from the very beginning. Hopefully, the skydiving world will soon see some Magic in the air and on the score boards...