William Jones was born in Pendleton, Oregon on August 19, 1894. He graduated from Hill Military Academy in Portland, Oregon before studying law at the University of Oregon. From 1919-1920 he was a salesman for Curtiss Air and Motor Corporation in San Francisco.
When Jones applied for a position with the Air Mail Service, the 27-year-old pilot had 350 hours of flying experience. Unlike most applicants who sought pilot jobs, Jones hoped for a management position. On July 20, 1920 he wrote to Col. John A. Jordan, Superintendent of the Western Division of the Air Mail Service, boasting that he could make the Western Division a record breaker. "Nearly everyone interested in aeronautics on the Pacific Coast is well acquainted with me and I can organize a department here that will keep the ball rolling."
Jones accepted a pilot's position, undoubtedly hoping to move up into management as a few other pilots had done before him. But, on September 18, 1920, Jones crashed his de Havilland airplane during a landing at Elko, Nevada. He stated that the motor had cut out, forcing him to attempt a landing cross-field with a tail wind, resulting in the crash. He was removed from pilot rotation and assigned as a mechanic. This demotion did not sit well with Jones, who lobbied Nevada Senator Charles Henderson for help. Senator Henderson wrote to Jordon, nothing, "I am interested in his case and would appreciate reinstatement."
Jones had also contacted various airmail officials, asking for assistance. Unfortunately, Jordon was unwilling to bend. In his response to Senator Henderson, Jordon said, "I beg to say that Jones was let out because of his inexperience and inability to properly fly the de Havilland ship. I have it in mind to give him some schooling when we are in a position to do so, and check him up further, and if we can make a pilot out of him I will reinstate him as soon as I consider him properly qualified." As airmail officials were often at the mercy of Congressional demands in return for funding assistance, Jordon's reply may have seem unduly brusque. However, as he made clear later in the same letter, Jordon had little reason to fear retribution from Senator Henderson, who had recently lost an election and was soon to be out of office. "In common with most of the people of Nevada, as well as your friends everywhere, I was surprised at the result of the election. If I may be permitted to say so, however, I think you are to be congratulated on being relieved of the heavy responsibilities which you assumed as United States Senator."
Jones was relieved of his airmail duties on October 31, 1920.