Air Force level award goes to woman aviator, mentor

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. (AFNS) -- The National Aeronautic Association announced a McConnell Air Force Base Airman won the Katharine Wright Memorial Trophy by the National Aeronautic Association Aug. 31, 2017.

Maj. Chrystina Jones, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Plans and Programs chief and Wichita, Kansas, native, was chosen for her commitment to encouraging women across the globe to pursue and succeed in aviation careers.

The Katharine Wright Memorial Trophy is awarded to an individual who has contributed to the success of others or made a personal contribution to the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation and space flight over an extended period of time.

Throughout her career, Jones has shared her passion for aviation with others across the world.

While deployed to Iraq in 2010, Jones founded the Horizon East chapter of Women in Aviation International, a non-profit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests.

Through the chapter, Jones contacted the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to host a reception to highlight aviation opportunities for women. Iraqi women traveled across the country to attend the event, which taught them how to build a career as a pilot, air traffic controller or airport manager.

"We started this important dialogue to encourage women in these fields," said Jones. "We wanted to educate the women on their opportunities in an industry they may not have considered."

Later in her career, while stationed at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Jones reached out to Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, to speak to U.S. and Japanese leadership on women’s issues as part of the Women’s History Month program. She also led a women’s career fair to showcase more than 30 professional fields to more than 550 American and Japanese women.

“The Iraqi and Japanese women taught me so much,” said Jones. “Collectively they are changing the course of their countries’ history. Really, I was the one left inspired by women all over the world, who are hungry to succeed and willing to go for it despite all odds.”

Currently, Jones is a board member and outreach chair for the WAI’s local Air Capital City chapter in Wichita. Jones recently arranged for McConnell AFB Airmen to attend the 2017 Women in Aviation Conference in Orlando, Florida, and is currently organizing an event for young girls to learn about aviation.

“I’m just fortunate to have crossed paths with these all-stars at a truly amazing time in history,” said Jones. “I’ve seen so many glass ceilings shattered by so many others in my career, which is completely energizing. This work has truly been the highlight of my life and career,” said Jones.

Jones will receive the trophy at a banquet later this year in Washington.