It's a race against time rather than against a field of contenders. The object is to fly through the course as quickly as possible, avoiding obstacles and flying always to the right of the red markers and to the left of the blue ones. A penalty of three seconds is assessed each time the plane flies to the wrong side of a pylon marker. The pylon count is kept at the top of the screen during the race and is counted down as they are missed, so that the number of pylons missed during the race is displayed when the race is through.
The joystick controls the aircraft, while the fire button in this case is the throttle. There are two difficulty levels involved, one in which the trees on the course are placed at random directly in the path of the plane. Balloonists are also likely to appear more frequently and in collision aspect to the flight of the aircraft.
There really isn't any more to it than that. The graphics are sharp and detailed, but the audio portion of the game are just so-so compared to the usual Activision offering. Sky Jinks provides a lot of fun without resultant increases in stress or aggression levels -- sort of like Nintendo's Pilotwings.