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OTHER RESOURCES

Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Parker, CP-48000-01 et seq., reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.

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Your copy of the "Davis-Monthan Airfield Register" with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1. A prolific visitor to Tucson, pilot Parker appears on pages 20, 22, 56, 62, 164, 166 and 172.

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PHILNEWS. MAY, 1960, the publication of the Phillips Petroleum Company.

Photo, above, right from: Aviation Update. 8:1. June, 2002, the publication of the Phillips Petroleum Company.

The Early Birds of Aviation CHIRP, July, 1961, Number 66.

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WILL "BILLY" D. PARKER

Will "Billy" D. (no middle name, only the initial 'D') Parker was born at Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on January 3, 1899. He's remembered widely for building his own airplane when he was young (a pusher design), flying before December 17, 1916, which gave him the privilege of being a member of the Early Birds. Follow this link to see Parker in his Pusher.

He invented the variable-pitch propeller, joined Pershing in Mexico, and managed the Phillips Petroleum Company corporate aviation organization. An excellent review of his life in aviation is presented at this link. It documents his first flights, test pilot work, Phillips Petroleum work and flying demonstrations. It has many excellent photos, too.

Parker landed and signed the Register at Tucson nine times between 1927 and 1931. He flew Travel Air (NC89, NC3019) and Lockheed (NC898E, NC972Y) aircraft. On two of his itineraries he was inspected by the U.S. Border Patrol. No reason is apparent for the inspections.

The NASM dossier on Parker is also interesting. Following are excerpts from an October 1954 biographical note published by the Phillips Petroleum Company:

"Born in Oklahoma City, Okla., 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 holds pilot's license No. 44 and has more than 16,000 hours flying time....

"Aviation enthusiasts are quick to recognize a number of features found in his early plane which are coming into modern airplane design. For example, the three-wheel landing gear is now popular...and the pusher-type motor...

"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.

During the First World War, "He was assigned as a test pilot with the U.S. Aircraft Corporation at Redwood City, Calif. and the Dewey Airplane Co. at Dewey, Okla., and given the job of chief instructor at a flying school which had just been opened at Dewey. 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....

"During all these years he has kept his old 1912 pusher, which has become a sentimental heirloom. Periodically he goes over the entire ship checking guywires, controls, cables, and other vital parts. He flies it only on rare occasions but proves that it is still safe and steady by taking it up every once in a while. The old plane can still do 60 miles an hour, take off from a small area, and climb at a good rate. Once airborne, though, the pusher leaves the rest up to the pilot, for it has no instruments. Not even a tachometer or oil gauge."

With this as lead-in, the following 1962 letter from Parker to an officer of the Antique Airplane Association, takes the Association's magazine to task for publishing inaccuracies about his original pusher. The original letter is in Parker's NASM dossier. I include a scan of it (two pages), on Phillips letterhead, for your amusement.

He was President of The Early Birds of Aviation, Inc. January 1, 1951 to December 31, 1953. He passed away in 1981. Following is the obituary from an unidentified newspaper:

Some words from a Phoenix, AZ friend who contacted me by email:

"I can speak volumes on Billy Parker. I was a pall bearer at his funeral. I inherited his Conquistadores belt and QB wings. For many years we did some fly fishing together in addition to our flights together.

"We spent countless hours together at his home in Sedona and the one in Sun City before his "Flight West" in 1981. He never got over his wife, Cindy's, death. Otherwise, he kept really busy in retirement. He made model replica engines which were amazing. He had a classic white Rolls Royce with some neat modifications.

"His two Curtiss Pusher's (one with an OX5 the other a LeRhone Rotary) hang in the terminals at OKC and TUL."

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Dossier 2.1.14

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/07/06 REVISED: 10/17/07, 02/27/08

 
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I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Parker and his airplanes to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.

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http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.

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