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Memorial service planned for flight instructor who ‘paid the ultimate sacrifice’

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RICHMOND, Va. -- A memorial service will be held Saturday for the flight instructor who died after the plane he was flying crash landed in a field in rural New Kent County last Friday.

The service for 38-year-old Andrew Jones will be held for family and friends Saturday at 2 p.m. at Bliley Funeral Homes at 8510 Staples Mill Road in Henrico County.

Family members said a memorial fund has been established by the family to support Jones' wife and two children.

In addition, a memorial Facebook page has been created so the flight instructor's students and friends can easily share their tributes and memories with the family.

Adam Jones said his brother, who opened the New Kent Flight Center in 2016, touched many lives and will be deeply missed.

"I want to ensure my dearest brother Andrew M Jones completed his final mission on earth and now is in heaven. He paid the ultimate sacrifice by landing his aircraft and so his passenger can walk away," Jones said.

 Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones

Virginia State Police said the small plane Jones was piloting plane went down in a field off Route 665, near Crosses Grove Road, in the Quinton area of the county at 11:05 a.m.

"A small, fixed-wing, private aircraft crash landed into a field and then struck a fence," a Virginia State Police spokeswoman said. "There was a pilot and one passenger onboard at the time of the crash."

The instructor and student pilot were doing touch and go training, according to Virginia State Police Sgt. Ricky Williams.

On the fourth touch and go, the pilot and student experienced engine trouble while looking for a safe place to land.

Investigators said Jones landed in an open field before the single engine aircraft clipped a wooden fence.

Jones was rushed to VCU Medical Center with life-threatening injuries where he later died.

The student pilot on board walked away with minor injuries.

Pilot remembered as 'very conscientious' 

Ed Augustine, the owner of Paramount Builders, said Jones worked for his company for four years.

"Andrew did all of the maintenance and all of the flying and handled all of our company's transportation needs," Augustine said.

The businessman remembered the 38-year-old as a very careful and conscientious pilot.

"I flew with him a hundred times. My friends and family were amazed at how careful he was."

Augustine praised Jones' work ethic and  may have been his best employee.

"I tried to offer him other positions in the company after we sold the plane, but flying was in his blood," Augustine said.

As a result, Augustine said Jones left the company when he and Kallenbach opened his flight school in New Kent County in July of 2016.

"I love it," Jones said in an interview with The Tidewater Review. "If I'm not flying, I get a little antsy. This is why I put in a long day."

The newspaper reported that Jones also worked as a cargo pilot for ACF Environmental.

Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones

Tribute posted on Facebook

This is the story of a hero. Like many such tales, there is tragedy, hope, sadness, and inspiration. Our goal is to share the story, tell the tale of ultimate sacrifice, and to help the legacy of a great man live on.

Andrew Jones loved to fly. From the age of six, he had the singular focus of being in the cockpit. He flew corporate, freight, and charter flights - "if it has a propeller I can fly it", he once said. Andrew could have easily joined the masses going to airlines jobs, but what he loved most was teaching. He touched the life's of dozens of student pilots, imparting his extensive knowledge of flying to people of all ages. He thoroughly enjoyed the unique satisfaction that occurs when the light of understanding finally comes on.

Andrew founded New Kent Flight Center with a single plane and a dream in July 2016. He quickly added students, staff, and partners with a mutual love for aviation. His fleet grew to six aircraft, and the student load was booming. While difficult, he maintained a semblance of balance between his work, his family, and other flying duties. He was making it, by all accounts.

On August 18th, 2017, while conducting an aircraft familiarization flight for another pilot, Andrew lost his life. In aviation, there is no such thing as a routine flight, as any number of variables can change on a whim. In this particular case, after three landings, and while climbing, Andrew's experienced an engine failure.

Perfection is sometimes just not good enough.

Andrew took control of the aircraft, by eyewitness accounts cool, calm, and in control. For those in the flying field, he maintained best glide, which was, as luck would have it, pretty close to climb speed. He quickly identified a "most suitable" landing field, aimed the plane, and immediately attempted to start the engine.

Anyone who has flown with Andrew knows he is the model of professionalism. While he was good-natured, and boasted a great sense of humor, his number one mission on each and every flight was to return the student safely to their earth-bound lives. Until the very end, Andrew completed his mission, and delivered his passenger to the ground, relatively unscathed. With more than 7,000 hours of flying, Andrew kept 100% of his students and passengers safe.

Accidents and other tragedies are often riddled with countless "what ifs" and "if onlys". What if the they took a different plane? If only they had 50 more feet of altitude". In this case, the aircraft clipping a wooden fence, spun into the field, and debris entered the cockpit and caused fatal injuries to Andrew. He died,and was taken from our lives, but he succeeded in his last mission: the other pilot walked away.

Andrew was an honorable, ethical, and selfless man. He loved his family, prized his wife Seon Min, son Jacob, and daughter Rebecca more than the blue sky or Earth below. He was a hero in every sense of the word, a teacher raising the bar for his students, a role model for his son, and a provider for his wife and family. He handled an impossible situation and, though tragic, saved at least one life that balmy morning.

The memorial fund linked below will be used to help offset the lost income caused by Andrew's death, and to provide monetary resources for Jacob and Rebecca to thrive in a world without their beloved father. Your support will help provide peace of mind for Seon Min, who is relentlessly devoted to the continued growth of her children and the continuation of Andrew's legacy.

Click here to make a contribution to the family's GoFundMe account.