Our Mission: Bonham Festival of Flight began as a regional fly-in to promote camaraderie in the world of local North Texas aviators. Festival of Flight has since evolved into an aviation extravaganza that combines a fly-in, airshow, and EAA Young Eagles event unlike any other in the great State of Texas. Our mission has expanded to engage surrounding communities to provide education, entertainment, and exposure and shine a spotlight on our local airport. We honor our past as a historical World War II training field, as well as focusing on the future of Jones Field as a positive presence in our local economy.
Education: We keep history alive at Jones Field by remembering our history as a World War II PT-17 and PT-19 Army Air Corps training base. Each year our military veterans are honored and thanked for their service. Our volunteers strive to share their knowledge and love of aviation. Our goal is to motivate young people to not only dream of flight, but actually take to the skies in an airplane via the EAA Young Eagles program. Local pilots flew 140 future flyers between the ages of 8-17 at the 2017 Festival of Flight. There will be exhibits on hand this year to inspire aviators of all ages, as well as another Young Eagles rally.
Entertainment: Our annual airshow grows and improves every year, and is packed with hours of unique aerial displays to amaze and delight spectators of all ages. Our very own Blue Skies Parachute Team opens the show during our National Anthem, followed by a variety of breathtaking aerobatic demonstrations, formation flights, and even a motorcycle race with one of our show aircraft!
Exposure: Bonham Festival of Flight is one of the largest annual events in Fannin County, drawing spectators and pilots from hundreds of miles away, providing welcome revenue to local businesses. Our airport serves an important purpose year round as a vital presence in our local economy. Jones Field provides a critical link to the rest of the world as we welcome transient aircraft of all sizes, empowering our local connections to businesses worldwide.
History of Jones Field
In the late 1920’s, Charles Jones coupled a desire to honor his father’s memory with an interest in his new-found passion - flight. On November 26, 1928, The Bonham Daily Favorite carried a headline announcing that Jones was giving a $10,000 gift to the city to be placed in a trust towards building an airport. In a statement accompanying the gift, Jones noted the airport donation was a memorial to his deceased father, Geo. W. Jones, a long-time resident of Bonham. The city matched the generous contribution. The new airport opened on November 11, 1929.
On June 25, 1941, a government contract was approved establishing the Bonham Aviation School as the civilian contractor for the 302nd Squadron Flying Training Detachment assigned to the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Gulf Coast Training Center (later Central Flying Training Command) as a primary pilot training airfield. Construction began July 1, 1941 to build hangars for 200 planes and buildings for personnel.
The first cadets arrived on October 1, 1941. At one time, Jones Field housed more than 800 cadets. The cadets were taught the basics of flying in the Fairchild PT-19 Cornell and PT-17 Stearman training aircraft and required to complete 90 hours of primary flight training to graduate. More than 5,000 pilots trained at Jones Field from 1941 through the fall of 1944. With the drawdown of the USAAF Training Command programs the last student flew at Jones Field on October 12, 1944. The flight school was inactivated on October 16, 1944 and the Jones Field was deactivated in the fall of 1945.
For a number of years, Jones Field remained abandoned. By the early 1960’s, the 3,000-foot runway once again became the site for flight training, this time for civilian pilots. Renamed Jones Airport, the airstrip also served as the home for transit aircraft and local pilots involved in spraying operations.
Recently, a 20-year master plan for Jones Field was adopted by the City of Bonham. The City, with assistance from grants from state and federal governments, plan to extend the runway from 4,000 to 5,000 feet, which will allow jets to land at the airport. Jones Field will continue to grow and serve Fannin County for many decades to come.