Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Misc. Forums > Aviation History and Nostalgia
Reload this Page >

BOAC Captain O.P. Jones

Aviation History and Nostalgia Whether working in aviation, retired, wannabee or just plain fascinated this forum welcomes all with a love of flight.

BOAC Captain O.P. Jones

Old 5th Dec 2012, 18:40
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: near an airplane
Posts: 1,669
BOAC Captain O.P. Jones

This thread has its origins in the Stratocruiser thread, but I felt that it might get some more attention this way.

Old-Duffer asked for information about BOAC Captain Oscar Philip Jones 1898 - 1980 CVO, OBE.
He is featured in most (if not all) of the BOAC Junior Jet Club logbooks:

His name comes up regularly as he was apparently a bit of a character. A contributor to my website shared this anecdote:
I also have my 50,000 mile certificate for the Junior Jet Club, dated 5th April 1965; it is signed by the redoubtable O. P. Jones - does that make it a collector's item, I wonder? :-)

My father used to tell me stories about the old Imperial Airways Captains and about O. P. Jones in particular, and the general fear and reverence with which they were held by the young, post-WW2 ex-RAF recruits (such as my father) to BOAC.

Apart from the logbook and pin, if you flew often enough you would also get one of these.
Photo Q. Heron
It was O. P. Jones who - according to my father - had been commanding a flight across the Atlantic shortly after the War, in an unidentified aircraft type, and was back at the navigator's table, pouring over the charts and smoking the pipe for which he was universally known and recognised. Jones was head down and deep in discussions with the Navigating Officer, when the FO turned around to ask a question, and the FO's knee hit the gang bar covering all eight magneto switches, turning them all off simultaneously, and thus causing all four engines to shut down at once, some 20,000'+ over the ocean at night. An impenetrable, shocked silence settled over the entire flight deck, with everyone frozen involuntarily in their places and appalled looks on everyone's face. No-one was able even to say a word. O. P. Jones did not turn a hair, and without so much as looking up, he simply took the pipe out of his mouth and said: "Quiet, isn't it?", and replaced his pipe in between his teeth.
Of course, the engines were quickly re-started, and being out of radar coverage with few if any other aircraft in the sky then, nothing else happened and nothing more was reportedly said about the incident. But O. P. Jones was hard to beat for sheer sang froid.
I found a reference on this Stratocruiser page about what may have been his last flight.
That great first gentleman of the air, Capt O.P. Jones (we were on the same Strat course) later landed one short at Goose Bay, fortunately without hurting anyone. Next day he went out to examine where his wheels' marks were. He resigned and never flew for BOAC again. He had done enough for his airline and country.
So, any more stories or information about this gentleman? Apparently there isn't all that much known about him, apart from the fact that he was a well-known BOAC Captain, held in high regard but also feared by many....

Last edited by Jhieminga; 6th Dec 2012 at 12:23.
Jhieminga is offline  
Old 5th Dec 2012, 19:02
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 76
Posts: 8,275
From the Aeroplane Directory of British Aviation, 1962:

Jones, Captain Oscar Philip,CVO, OBE, FRGS, FRAeS, Special Liaison Officer. BOAC.
Born Oct 15th 1898. Served RFC and RAF 1914-18 War; Berkshire Aviation Tours 1920-22, with FJV Holmes; joined Instone Air Line, 1922, and continuously engaged as airline captain European, Empire and International Routes until 1955; Founder Pilot Imperial Airways, 1924, and BOAC, 1940; RAFO and RAFVR 1924-54; Hon Pilot Uruguayan Air Force, 1945; flew Prince of Wales from Paris-London, 1926; survey flight Sudan-Nigeria, 1935; proving flights, UK-Lisbon 1939; OC No.2 Pool ATA, 1940; Flight Captain North Atlantic and first BOAC landplane service, Canada-UK 1941; Flight Captain UK Landplanes and Officer i/c Training, 1942; proving flights UK-West Africa, 1943; first "Kangaroo" flights Australia-Ceylon, 1944; survey flight BSAA route, 1945; first BOAC London-New York service, 1946; first New York-London "Monarch" service, 1951; flew HM The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to Canada, 1951; Founder Member and Warden and Past Deputy Master GAPAN; Master Pilot's Certificate No.8 and FAI Gliding Certificate "C"; Cumberbatch Trophy, 1931; Air Efficiency Award, 1943; Britannia Trophy, 1951; Wg Cdr RAFO 1945; President "25" Club, 1952; Guild Master Pilot Award, 1953; has flown over 21,600 hours on 118 types of aircraft and carried 139,000 passengers. Clubs: RAeC, RAF Reserves.

At the time that was written he lived in Pulborough.

There is a massive amount about him on Google...

Last edited by HEATHROW DIRECTOR; 5th Dec 2012 at 19:11.
Old 5th Dec 2012, 23:53
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Cornwall UK
Age: 75
Posts: 501
O P Jones Over the years....

Captain O P Jones by A30yoyo, on Flickr

matson LoC 00242u unknown 3 and OP Jones by A30yoyo, on Flickr

O.P. Jones and Ron at Bromma by Stephen Greensted, on Flickr

O P Jones by A30yoyo, on Flickr

I believe O P Jones and J C Kelly Rogers were both seconded to Aer Linte in 1947 by BOAC to train up crews for the proposed Irish Constellation service to New York....would be interesting to hear more of this project

And excerpt from the BBC people's war
Contributed by West Sussex Library Service People in story: Andrew Harris Location of story: Croydon, Surrey Background to story: Civilian Article ID: A4678257 Contributed on: 03 August 2005
In company with my mother and father we all sat round the radio to listen to Chamberlain’s words that our country had declared war with Germany. Shortly after we returned home and I may not have visited Bognor during the next five years, as the coast was a prohibited area due to the expectation of an invasion.
My father was transferred from the Post Office to the War Office, Prisoners of War section, and my next recollection probably dates from early 1940 when I travelled by car with him to Heston aerodrome where he handed over documents to the pilot of on eof the planes. This was the famous Captain O. P. Jones who had a long and distinguished career with Imperial Airways and B.O.A.C. (In one of the Heathrow Terminals there is a mural showing some of the pioneers of flight, and he is standing in uniform, easily recognisable by his black beard). I was introduced and allowed to sit in the cockpit with him in the plane which was a four-engined A. W. Ensign, the first large British monoplane airliner

Last edited by A30yoyo; 6th Dec 2012 at 00:15.
A30yoyo is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2012, 12:19
  #4 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: near an airplane
Posts: 1,669
Thanks for those additions! I dug up a book by David Beaty last night which mentions O.P. Jones a few times:
The Story of Transatlantic Flight The Story of Transatlantic Flight

The anecdote I copied into my first post is also in this book but slightly different. As the contributor who sent it to me mentions in his text that his father was also regularly in contact with David Beaty, the author of this book, it is logical that they both knew of this same story but it got changed a bit over the years.

I'll see if I can add some of the other anecdotes from this book later this day or tomorrow.

Edit: Just found this: O P Jones I wonder if that footage is available somewhere...

Last edited by Jhieminga; 6th Dec 2012 at 12:38.
Jhieminga is offline  
Old 6th Dec 2012, 20:14
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Deepest Berks
Age: 79
Posts: 87
TV Archives

I might be able to help you here, back in the early to middle 50's the BBC had no archival policy. Most programmes were live, so anything recorded by either film or telecine, ( video had still to be invented ) would have ben retained by pure chance, or technical value, NOT subject matter. There is an Archive Dept at the BBC but where I have no idea, it used to a Windmill Road Brentford, so a call to either Manchester or Broadcasting House London might just bring results.

I filmed Capt Jones at Shoreham in the middle 60's for an episode of the History of Aviation. The programme as a whole was pretty dire, though the ATC at Shoreham might have different ideas ( a lady called Richardson ) but I got to fly in a 2 seat Bleriot with a French 727 pilot who flew for Pan Am in the German internal routes Hope this helps Alan S

Last edited by bigal1941; 6th Dec 2012 at 20:15. Reason: spelling
bigal1941 is offline  
Old 7th Dec 2012, 12:55
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,419
As the contributor who sent it to me mentions in his text that his father was also regularly in contact with David Beaty
Slight thread drift. While visiting relatives in Tonbridge, Kent in the middle 1970's they mentioned that David Beaty lived in a nearby village. I had read some of his books including "Call me Captain" and the Naked Pilot.

My wife and I dropped in to see him as I wanted to say how much I enjoyed his fine book on flight safety The Naked Pilot. He was the epitome of the English gentleman and quickly invited us in for a cup of tea. Although I was English and having lived as a child during the war years in Kent, I was conscious of my now Australian accent compared to Beaty's very cut-glass British accent.

In discussing the pilot error stories which made up most of his book, he mentioned he had experienced more than a few problems getting the captains he had interviewed admitting their own flying mistakes.

I suggested that if he wrote a sequel to his book on pilot error, he should consider interviewing first officers rather than captains as first officers were often the captive audience on the flight deck who could tell a few harrowing examples of the stuff ups by their captains.

I was astonished when the convivial David Beaty immediately stood up from his chair, thanked me rather acidly for my opinion and showed my wife and I the door. A polite bums rush I suppose. It seemed I had crossed his British social class line by implying "captains" words were sometimes slanted by loss of face. In that era of old time captains it was simply not done to admit stuffing up occasionally. On the other hand, in his eyes, first officers by definition were simply subordinates whose opinions were not worth considering. Who knows, maybe my Aussie accent and perceived colonial attitude upset him.
....A few years after that little episode, someone invented CRM.

Ever since that experience I have viewed the haughty perceived grandeur of bearded veteran British old time captains such as O.P Jones and his ilk with grave reservations.

Last edited by A37575; 7th Dec 2012 at 13:01.
A37575 is offline  
Old 7th Dec 2012, 13:47
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Herefordshire
Posts: 1,022

I'm intrigued by your story of visiting David Beaty, particularly as I was an avid reader of his books. One especially, 'The wind off the sea' I recall reading before I joined the RAF in '65.

It is quite some time since I read 'The Naked Pilot' but I'm sure he made a suggestion that a reason for Qantas' excellent safety record was the fact that by nature Aussies are not pushovers or sycophants and their FOs and Flt Engs' would question and take captains to task. However my Cathay mates ( all Brits), who flew with lots of Aussies, assured me that this was not so!

I was always interested in his writings on the 'psychology' of aircrew etc and always hoped we would introduce CRM type training in CAA ATC - it was sorely needed as there were a lot of right barstewards around who could easily destroy a trainee's confidence.
Brian 48nav is offline  
Old 9th Dec 2012, 06:05
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Northamptonshire
Posts: 1,283
I'm really glad that I mentioned O P Jones because it's opening up a whole new world of interest.

David Beaty, or rather Arthur David Beaty DFC & Bar, not only had a distinguished war record but was also a senior airline captain. I have read a number of his novels but have yet to try his more cerebral stuff. I'm off to explore the South American river, once I've walked the dogs!!

Old Duffer
Old-Duffer is offline  
Old 11th Dec 2012, 19:39
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 176
Another photo I found in the loft - about 1960.
Mike6567 is offline  
Old 13th Dec 2012, 13:26
  #10 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: near an airplane
Posts: 1,669
Great photo!

As promised some anecdotes and a photo from the David Beaty book I linked to earlier. This first one relates to the weather ships that were stationed across the Atlantic and how their crews got a bit lonely.
One night, the veteran BOAC Captain, O.P. Jones, was approaching the weather ship and picked up his microphone to make contact. However, a sailor was having a conversation with the stewardess on the American aircraft ahead, and all he could hear through the headphones was ... 'I'm twenty two, five feet four inches, thirty-five, twenty-two, thirty-five, blonde hair, blue eyes. My flat is in 16 Brooklyn Park, telephone 5652...' 'Jesus honey, we're practically neighbours. Can you cook!'... 'Everybody says my apple pie...' 'Honey, I'll be right over. That is in three weeks and two days and five hours time.' Eventually there was a break in the conversation and Captain Jones spoke: 'This is Speedbird Easy Love ... I'm fifty-one years old, five feet nine inches tall, forty-two, thirty-two, thirty-five, blue eyes, a torpedo beard ... I'm interested in breeding bull terriers and I live in Sussex, England. My cooking is well known. Do you want my telephone number?' There was an astonished silence before the one word ... 'No-o-o.' 'Then can I,' said Captain Jones, 'have the wind at 19,000 feet?'
This reference gives some idea of the Captain's status:
... the first of their five trans-Atlantic Constellations, Bristol II, would leave London at 22.00 hours on on 1st July 1946, under the command of Captain O.P. Jones, well known for his piercing blue eyes and torpedo beard, who had been in Imperial Airways from the beginning and was already the Grand Old Man of British Civil Aviation.
Weird things certainly used to happen - and people would act strangely. Round here, Lindbergh suddenly became conscious of ghostly shapes coming aboard the Spirit of St.Louis. Nor far away, a First Officer, wishing to adjust the automatic pilot controls on a Liberator, inadvertently pulled the master ignition switch. All four engines immediately cut. Captain O.P. Jones was in the Engineer's position, writing up the log book. As the aircraft glided several thousands of feet towards the sea, he closed the log book, laid his pen beside it, turned to the Engineer and remarked, 'Strangely quiet, isn't it, Mr Stack?' before striding forward to remedy the mishap and bring the engines back to life again.
This last story is very similar to the one in my first post. It may have changed a bit in retelling but as the contributor to my website who sent it to me mentions David Beaty as well, as a friend of his father, I don't doubt that there is a basis of truth in it.

Last edited by Jhieminga; 13th Dec 2012 at 13:34.
Jhieminga is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2012, 08:21
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chester UK
Age: 80
Posts: 932
Old-Duffer please check your PM's for more on OP.
one11 is offline  
Old 14th Dec 2012, 09:26
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Berkshire, UK
Age: 76
Posts: 8,275
I can't recall the details but there was an interesting R/T exchange between Captain Jones' first officer and "Cockney Robbie" on London Airways. Maybe Talkdownman remembers? It was something about Airways instructing the Speedbird to descend and the F/O saying something to the effect that OP would descend when he was ready...
Old 16th Dec 2012, 11:54
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,419
Did I detect only three stripes on the sleeve of Captain Jones in that photo of him in that Connie? The leather gloves looked rather swish too. When did the current practice of wearing four stripes come into being? From what I have seen in Australia four bars are common among CFI's at flying schools operating light twins.
Thread drift - sorry
A37575 is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2012, 12:48
  #14 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: near an airplane
Posts: 1,669
I found some more small scraps of info on O.P. Jones in
Wings Across The World - An illustrated history of British Airways by Harald Penrose Wings Across The World - An illustrated history of British Airways by Harald Penrose
. It is interesting to note that although O.P. is mentioned several times, there are no 'funny anecdotes' or anything like that. This book was written in a style which is more descriptive, it obviously was more important to Penrose to set out the facts than to provide a feeling of the time and place. Nothing wrong with that of course but it makes for less riveting reading.

On the other hand, reading the short, factual accounts such as these makes you realise that flying an airliner in those days was nothing like what we're used to now!

Additions by me are in brackets.

Snags with the Jaguar engine were persisting. On 8 December (1926) an Argosy piloted by O.P. Jones en route for Croydon broke a tappet rod and then oil pressure dropped on another engine, but he landed safely at nearby Pluckley and sent the twelve passengers on by train to London. Replacing the tappet rod next day he flew to Croydon, arriving at the same time as the first of the triple-engined DH Hercules.
(On 9th May 1932) ... the sister airliner (HP42) Horatius, flown by O.P. Jones, with thirteen passengers aboard, was climbing through cloud to reach clear skies above Tonbridge when lightning fused the trailing aerial, burnt out the wireless installation, and dislodged a window which damaged the adjacent propeller, resulting in considerable vibration, so Jones turned back and landed again at Croydon - but five of his passengers refused to continue after that experience, though the other eight left with him soon afterwards in the Helena.
Though the press made sensational news of air accidents it was equally ready with stories of derring-do and even about airline pilots. One of the first to feature was Capt Oscar Philip Jones, known as 'O.P.' by his contemporaries but more cautiously by juniors whom he addressed as 'Mister'. He was headlined in May (1934) as the air pilot who had flown one million miles and carried 65,000 passengers without accident, but it was his air of command and raking jutting beard which intrigued newspapermen.
(About a flight with the prototype AW Ensign on 11 October 1938 with 50 invited guests.) Capts O.P. Jones and Horsey made the smoothest of landings.
In England a glorious Easter (1939) produced a record number of air travellers, 40 machines leaving for Paris and 30 for Le Touquet during Thursday and Friday, and extra aircraft were required on the Scandinavian and Austrian routes. Heracles, returning at midnight, encountered a phenomenal bump over Croydon which put Capt O.P. Jones through the roof and injured the crew, so that all appeared in bandages the next day; luckily the steward and stewardess had insisted on the passengers securing their belts.
The route to Russia was also changed (in 1943), for the hazards had become too great, and it was agreed that BOAC should fly direct to Moscow by a Mediterranean route which Capt O.P. Jones pioneered with Mr. Maisky, the Russian ambassador, aboard. From Cairo they flew to Habbaniya near Baghdad, then skirted the Caspian Sea to Kuibyshev, but on his return flight Capt Jones made for Teheran, and this became the adopted route flown by Liberators.
Meanwhile pilots of the Atlantic Ferry were allocated to the Constellations, and on 1 July (1946) the London-New York service was opened by Capt J.G. Percy flying from London, and on the 3rd Capt O.P. Jones flew the reverse run from New York.
Highlight of BOAC's activities in October (1951) was the midnight flood-lit departure to Montreal of Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh aboard the Stratocruise flagship Canopus commanded by that distinctively bearded personality Capt O.P. Jones.
But now came historic change. Churchill at 80 resigned the premiership. Elections in May (1955) resulted in victory for the Conservatives and Sir Anthony Eden became Prime Minister. That month another famous personality resigned: Capt O.P. Jones of the much-publicized jutting beard. At 56 he had completed 21,600 hours, crossing the English Channel 6,000 times and the Atlantic 300, carrying 140,000 passengers. Such long and devoted service earned an illuminated certificate.
Jhieminga is offline  
Old 16th Dec 2012, 18:40
  #15 (permalink)  
Death Cruiser Flight Crew
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Vaucluse, France.
Posts: 615
B.O.A.C. uniform rank insignia for pilots

In 1956 the rank markings were as follows:
Senior captain 1st class, four half inch rings
Senior captain 2nd class, three half inch rings plus one quarter inch ring
Captain, three half inch rings
Senior first officer, two half inch rings with quarter inch ring in between
First officer, two half inch rings
Second officer, one half inch ring

I distinctly remember all the crew members boarding in tropical white uniforms at Kano in 1953. This was discontinued, except for white covers over the hats while in the tropics. By the early 1960s this too had ceased.
Georgeablelovehowindia is offline  
Old 17th Dec 2012, 09:11
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Australia
Age: 65
Posts: 91
From Army News 1944

O. P. Jones in Melbourne MELBOURNE, Tuesday.-The senior pilot of British Overseas Airways, and probably the dean of all civil pilots, Captain. O. P. Jones, is visiting Melbourne on a special mission. Captain Jones learned to fly with the RAF in the last war. He is a founder pilot of Imperial Air- ways, which he joined in 1924. He has flown 16,000 hours and carried 104,000 passengers. He is licensed to fly 86 types of aircraft. Captain Jones flew the first British Overseas Airways land plane across the Atlantic and has flown long distance services to West Africa and Russia.
ian.whalley is offline  
Old 24th Dec 2012, 14:21
  #17 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: near an airplane
Posts: 1,669
Nice additions! I went through
Charles Woodley's BOAC: An Illustrated History Charles Woodley's BOAC: An Illustrated History
but couldn't find all that much about O.P.:
On 24 September 1941 the running of the Return Ferry Service was handed over in its entirety to BOAC, operating under the AOC RAF Ferry Command. Ten Liberators were provided by the RAF, but BOAC took full responsibility for their maintenance, operations and crewing. The first crossing under BOAC control took place on that date, under the command of Captain O.P. Jones, and services were operated from then on six days of each week.
On 16 June 1946 L-049 Constellation G-AHEM 'Balmoral', under the command of Captain W.S. May, operated the first of ten BOAC Constellation transatlantic proving flights, and set a record of 11hrs 24mins for the New York-London journey. These flights paved the way for the inauguration of twice-weekly scheduled services between London and La Guardia Airport, New York on 1 July 1946, with G-AHEJ 'Bristol II' operating the first service under the command of Captain O.P. Jones.
About the initial Boeing Stratocruiser services:
On 1 March 1951 the De Luxe 'Monarch' service from London to New York was inaugurated, initially on a three-times-weekly frequency, but upgraded to daily from 1 May. The first westbound service ws commanded by Captain J.T. Percy, and the first eastbound schedule by Captain O.P. Jones, flying G-ALSB 'Champion'. Captain Jones was almost a legendary figure on the transatlantic services of this period, commanding most of the inaugural services, as befitting his great experience.

Last edited by Jhieminga; 3rd Jan 2013 at 15:58.
Jhieminga is offline  
Old 24th Dec 2012, 15:27
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chester UK
Age: 80
Posts: 932
O P Jones originally joined Imperial Airways on its foundation in 1924 when they absorbed the operations of the Instone Air Line . Before joining Instone he had worked with Berkshire Aviation Tour who operated Avro 504's giving pleasure flights around the country. Here are two autographed pictures from that operation. The vertical shot is dated 19th December 1920
one11 is offline  
Old 24th Dec 2012, 15:39
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Chester UK
Age: 80
Posts: 932
Also pre-dating the trademark beard is this Imperial Airways publicity shot - this time the autograph is pre-printed. From the roughly painted out Instone titles of the background deHavilland DH.34 I guess this is 1924.

Sorry just noticed a cropped version of this in an earlier post

Last edited by one11; 24th Dec 2012 at 15:42. Reason: Similarity to earlier post
one11 is offline  
Old 1st Jan 2013, 21:29
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Cornwall UK
Age: 75
Posts: 501
Interesting early pics, one11....here's the IWM collection portrait at Prestwick while he was flying the Return Ferry Service Liberators
A30yoyo is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.