A very unique and record setting pilot spent part of the weekend in Jasper. Colin Hales, an Oxford, England aviator who began piloting at the age of 16, arrived at the Jasper County Bell Field Airport on Sunday morning after having flown in from Dallas in his KR-2 airplane.
Hales was hoping to enjoy the 11th Annual Jasper Air Show, but unfortunately the event was postponed until October 3rd & 4th due to heavy rain on Friday and Saturday.
Hales says doesn’t get to attend many air shows in the UK, but with eight years of planning before the American trip, he is looking at about 20 to 30 that he plans to attend here.
Of the Jasper Air Show, Hales said “I heard about it from way out about 300 miles west of Dallas. They were saying ‘Yep, go to Jasper, it’s a good air show’, so I was coming this way, but, as with everything, the weather gods play games and unfortunately it was cancelled”.
Hales, who is an aeronautical engineer, is currently on his second world tour, or at least as many places as he can get to. It’s called the” KR-2 World Tour”, and Hales has been touring the United States since June of 2014.
Hales, with a very British sense of humor, jokingly said that he travels back to England periodically “to feed the cat”. Hales clarified that the cat is very well taken care of, but he does have to return occasionally because of businesses that he owns.
For the most part, Hales says he really doesn’t have an itinerary and he enjoys just going where he pleases with no set agenda.
Apparently Texas and Texans have been a very positive experience for Hales. When asked about his impression of the Lone Star State Hales said “The hospitality has been, and I’m not just saying this because I’m here, the hospitality is very, very welcoming and spontaneous and you get to meet the people. So, my big impression of Texas, and America, is the size of the country and the warmth I’ve received as I’ve been traveling through”.
Hales’ first big adventure began in October of 2001 and continued until January of 2003 when he and Nadine Brauns flew another KR-2 from England to Australia. The BBC reported that the flight - which was actually 60 individual flights across 21 different countries – was a record breaking journey for the smallest plane to have ever flown from England to Australia.
According to Hales, his KR-2 is an American variant on a British designed aircraft, which was created by Ken Rand, hence the “KR”.
Hales’ first KR-2 was named “Bitzy”. So, of course, friends persuaded him to name the new KR-2 “Itzy”. The nicknames are very appropriate because the nimble little two-seater is quite small, but Hales makes good use of the space with his flight bags and a collapsible bicycle crammed into the right seat.
On Monday afternoon he left Jasper and headed to Galveston to enjoy the sites there, then on to New Orleans, and then the next big stop at the famous Sun-n-Fun International Fly In & Expo in Lakeland, Florida.
Hales says this summer he’ll be making his way across western Canada into Alaska, and then flying the Aleutian Islands chain to eastern Russia, and then down the coast of Russia to Japan and China, and from there… who knows?