Evan Parker
  IT'S LEGAL NOW --- Evan J. Parker fondles Early Birds certificate, his sole document accrediting him as Air Age pioneer until yesterday when he received honorary pilot's license. he flew dirigibles as early as 1908.  

Flier Who Quit in 1911 Given Pilot's License
Rochester Democrat-Chronicle
February 9, 1955

     Evan J. Parker, who used to patch up his own aircraft in mid-flight 46 years ago, was issued his first pilot's license yesterday.
     Was he ever delighted!
     "I always felt sort of bad at the Early Birds meetings," he chortled, "where all the others have their license numbers. I didn't -- but I guess I do now."
     Fred B. Lee, administrator of civil aeronautics, yesterday sent Parker's honorary pilot's certificate to Rep. Harold C. Ostertag to be forwarded to the Air Age veteran. The reason he didn't have one before is that he was through flying before licenses were needed--and before most of the country had ever seen an aircraft.
     Those who did see one by 1911, chances are, saw one flown by Parker--provided it was a dirigible. He was a barnstorming pilot for the Stroebel Dirigible Co. in Toledo, Ohio, and his duties took him from coast to coast.
     Now 70, Parker recounted some of the thrills and the chills of his flying career last night as he sat in the spotless apartment he and his wife occupy at 2061 Dewey Ave. But unlike many other old timers, he did not dwell on past glories alone--he did not need to, for he is a trim, active man.
     "How do you like this place?" he asked. "Did it all myself. When we moved in here all we found were the walls. I did all the painting, repairing , cabinet work--everything." The place looked like a page from a do-it-yourself magazine.
     Reminded of his flying past, he mentioned that he had a scrap book. "But I guess you can't take time to look at it,: he added. After some urging, he got it out.

Evan Parker
FLIER OF YORE -- Here is a picture from Parker's scrap book
showing him (white shirt) in front of his dirigible. 1910


It was in this period that Evan J. Parker made his many pioneering and successful flights in Strobel's dirigible balloons. Happily for us, through the generosity of his great grandaughter Julie L. Keller, we can revisit those early days. In this section you will find a complete record of his scheduled flights, many of them cited in newpaper articles and illustrated with some fascinating photographs. If you are at all interested in this phase of early aviation, I highly recommend that you review his story by clicking on:


If you are interested in seeing more of the many photographs from Parker's collection, which were kindly provided by his great grandaughter Julie L. Keller, just click on:

Evan Parker & Dora
Evan J. Parker & wife Dora
50th Wedding Anniversary, May, 1960
L to R: Daughter, Ruth Shaffer; Son, Alton Parker;
Evan & Dora,
Daughter, Betty Nagel

  EVAN J. PARKER was born in Hornell, N.Y. on February 1st, 1885. He started his aviation career as one of the early "airship" mechanics and later became a great exhibition airship pilot. In 1910 and 1911 he piloted a dirigible at Columbus, Miss., Knoxville, Tenn., Richmond, Va., Tampa, Florida, and in other cities. In 1906 he went to Toldedo, Ohio, to help Charles J. Strobel build his exhibition airships. There he joined other early airship fliers - Lincoln Beachey, Charles K. Hamilton and Stanley Vaughn, all of whom worked on the airships. Until the summer of 1908, Parker worked on construction and assisted as an apprentice with the exhibitions of the others. Then on August 31, 1908 he made his own debut as an airship pilot at the Kansas State Fair, Hutchinson, where Strobel had a contract. From there on the followed the fairs and celebrations for a long list of exhibitions, combined on occasion with airplane flights by Phil Parmalee and Arch Hoxsie. At the First Air Meet in Los Angeles, January 10-20, 1910, Parker was sent by Strobel to learn to fly a Curtiss airplane. In the fall of 1911 Parker flew his last airship at the Richmond, Va. State Fair and early in 1912 returned to his home state to work for the Eastman Kodak Company, where he remained 38 1/2 years, retiring at the age of 65 in the year 1950
Evan J. Parker died in 1966
Courtesy of Julie L. Keller
Editor's Note:
If you have any information on this Early Bird,
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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