MOJAVE (MTM PR) — Veteran air race pilot and aircraft restoration expert Matt Jackson has joined the Mojave Transportation Museum Foundation as Director of Aircraft Maintenance and member of the board of directors.
MTM Treasurer Cathy Hansen, who invited Jackson to join the group, said “We are thrilled to have someone of Matt’s caliber working with us to help educate the public about aviation.”
Jackson, based in Van Nuys, has flown more Unlimited class race planes than any other pilot in the history of the Reno air races.
This year he will be in the cockpit of Strega, a modified P-51 which has won more races in its class than any other contender, an interesting match-up of pilot and plane that promises a great race in the new Unlimited and Warbird Class (UWRC) at Reno.
In addition to being a fixture at Reno, Jackson is one of a handful of expert mechanics authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to certify piston-engine aircraft for flight, and who aircraft owners trust to maintain their valuable airplanes.
He is also one of a dozen or so pilots authorized by the FAA to fly all piston-powered airplanes, which requires that they possess at least three FAA letters of authorization to fly specific piston-powered aircraft.
Based at Van Nuys Airport, Jackson is a familiar face at the Mojave Air and Space Port, which he visits frequently to work on “Wildfire,” an unlimited class air racer with an AT-6 fuselage powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine.
He also maintains and flies a P-51 belonging to Tom Cruise which has visited the local airport flown by Cruise and by Jackson.
Tests aircraft ‘every day’
Jackson, who says he “test-flies airplanes every day,” has been flying since he was 14, moving airplanes for his father, who owned a business that rebuilt aircraft engines. He earned a pilot’s license at age 18, and traded odd-jobs around the Van Nuys airport for flying lessons. At 19, he ferried a P-51 from Reno back to Van Nuys.
Jackson is featured in the August, 2013, issue of Air and Space Smithsonian in an article about the Reno Air Races, which will be held September 11th to the 15th.
“We welcome Matt to MTM, and look forward to working with him to promote our efforts to raise funds to build — and attract exhibits — to a museum that will educate people of all ages about the vital role transportation continues to play in the Mojave area,” said MTM President Bill Deaver. “The museum we are planning will be first and foremost an educational institution.”
The Mojave Transportation Museum Foundation hosts Plane Crazy Saturday events at the Mojave Air and Space Port on the third Saturday of each month. Admission to the family-friendly event is free.
For more information about Plane Crazy Saturday, call 661.824.2481.