Monday, December 12, 2011

Will 'Billy' D. Parker 1899-1981

Born in Oklahoma City, Ok, Billy Parker was bitten by the flying bug while he was still a high school student at Ft. Collins, Colo. He pioneered in writing aviation history by flying in hundreds of aerial exhibitions in pre-World War I days. He held pilot's license No. 44 and had more than 16,000 hours flying time.
When he began flying his pusher plane in the summer of 1912, he was about the only pilot doing any successful flying in the high altitude of Colorado and Wyoming, where he was appearing.
By 1916 Parker was in the United States Army at the Mexican border. As the United States drew closer to entry into the war, Parker transferred to the aviation section of the Signal Corps as a civilian flying instructor. At that time, the Army owned only 12 or 15 planes. There was no air force or air corps.

In 1917, Parker was commissioned a captain in the British Royal Flying Corps, but with America's entry in the war, he was returned to San Francisco. Billy was assigned to the U.S. Aircraft Corporation at Redwood City, California as a test pilot. Later in the war he became chief instructor at a new flying school opened in Dewey, Oklahoma.
At the close of the war, Parker spent several years barnstorming throughout the Mid-West before joining Phillips Petroleum Company as manager of its aviation division.
Among Parker's early duties with Phillips was arranging the stratosphere test flights of the late Wiley Post, which provided much valuable information on high altitude flying.Parker worked for Phillips until his retirement in 1966. He continued working as a consultant for Phillips and other companies.
Parker flew his pusher in eight to ten air shows a year including airport openings and celebrations such as the 50th anniversary of flight at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1953. Phillips Petroleum donated the Parker Pusher NX62E to the Tulsa, Oklahoma International Airport in 1968 and the Parker Pusher NX66U to the Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in 1970. Parker attended both dedications. The engine on a pusher is located behind the pilot's seat. Early planes with the engine in front of the pilot were called tractors. Parker had an active pilot's license until 1979. He was an active member of the Early Birds, Conquistadores del Cielo, Veteran Pilot's Association, Silver Wings of World War I and the OX5 Club up to his death in 1981.