An afternoon with the legendary Bob Parks

As a World War II veteran, an incredibly talented artist, an esteemed aviator and a genuinely good person, Bob Parks is a legend.

Born in 1926, Parks enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces at age 17 after graduating high school. He served as a crewmember in a number of different aircraft, from trainers to transports and bombers. After being discharged from the military in 1945, he attended Duke University and also received his pilot’s license. He then joined The Boeing Company where he worked in a number of positions over the course of nearly 50 years, including as a production illustrator on the XB-52.

Throughout his remarkable military and aviation career, Parks was constantly sketching or painting. His artwork garnered much attention throughout his life and today is on display in a number of different corporate offices and museums across the country, including the prestigious Smithsonian.

Additionally, Parks was commissioned to do illustrations for Ernest Gann in Flying Magazine and perhaps most notably for the author’s famous book, Ernest Gann’s Flying Circus.

I had the pleasure of meeting Parks and his lovely wife Judy in their Seattle-area home last week, where a handful of current and former Boeing employees had the chance to look through dozens of Parks’ drawings and paintings, including landscapes, portraits and — of course — airplanes.

I also got to sit down with him and hear stories about the inspiration behind many of his paintings. The amount of thought and detail that went into each one of them is unreal… from the color of the sweeping sands in the Sahara Desert to the chamois cloth used to filter out whatever junk was in the aviation fuel — every detail needed to be just right.

I purchased two stunning prints: one of the famous Boeing 367-80 or “Dash 80” and one of a Northwest Airlines Boeing 377 Stratocruiser — the latter appears in Ernest Gann’s Flying Circus.

I can’t say enough good things about Bob Parks. I am eternally grateful to have met him and to now be able to call him a friend. Parks is, of course, part of the “Greatest Generation,” and after spending an afternoon with him… I certainly know why.

From SEA to shining seaplane


Having arrived in the Emerald City nearly two months ago, I’ve been having the time of my life exploring my new hometown. I’ve of course spent countless hours taking photos at the local airports – SeaTac, Boeing Field and Paine Field – where I’ve seen plenty of new planes and old planes, fast planes and slow planes… this is truly an AvGeek’s paradise.

I recently celebrated my 34th birthday, and my husband came through with an incredibly special gift: a flight on a Kenmore Air seaplane. I had never been on a seaplane before, and the airline is currently running a special to commemorate its 75th anniversary: 30-minute scenic flights for $75 a person! 

We lucked out and got to fly on “Maggie” – the special King 5 Evening DHC-3 Turbo Otter. The experience of taking off and landing on the water, and flying low and slow around the city was so exciting. We really lucked out with the weather, too, as it was about 80 degrees with abundant sunshine. And yes, the mountain (or as I call it, “Rainy”) was out!

For those who live in the Seattle area, or for anyone visiting this year, I highly recommend checking out the Kenmore Air 75th Anniversary Scenic Flight deal. I know we’ll certainly do it again in the near future, and hopefully at some point we’ll take advantage of one of the other packages (the Mt. Rainier & St. Helens Volcano Tour is very high on my list!).

Here’s a short video I put together, documenting our adventure!

Although we’ve only been here a short time, we’ve managed to pack in a lot of fun activities, from hikes to bikes, both the Museum of Flight and MOHAI, ferry and water taxi rides, kayaking and now flying in a seaplane! Have a suggestion for something I should check out in the area? Let me know in the comments!

To blue skies and tailwinds…

On to the Emerald City…

Aviation enthusiast.

Storyteller.

Adventure seeker.

Those are the phrases I use to describe myself across my social media pages, and I do my best to live up to each one of them on a daily basis.

For the first, I usually find myself out at a St. Louis-area airport three-to-four times a week, and I love documenting those experiences and sharing them with others on Instagram who share my love for airplanes.

For the second, that’s where my day job comes in. As a historian at Boeing, I’m fortunate to be able to spend my time researching and writing about the company’s past. There’s a lot we can learn from history, and it’s my job to tell those stories and make them meaningful and relevant today.

For the third, I haven’t quite lived up to my own expectations over the last year or two, but that’s largely due to the pandemic, which wreaked havoc on the world and hit the travel industry particularly hard. However, I have had one BIG adventure in the works for awhile now, and it’s finally time to share that with you, my fellow aviation enthusiasts and travel lovers.

I’ve been with Boeing for about three-and-a-half years. I started in Chicago where I worked in executive communications for just over a year. The Windy City is, of course, the company’s headquarters, but nestled on the 30th floor of a downtown skyscraper, I didn’t really feel like I was working for an airplane manufacturer. A new opportunity to work in Historical Services led me to St. Louis at the end of 2018, and while I’m not nearly as passionate about military aircraft as I am about commercial, this has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

For the last two years, I’ve worked just steps from where the Mercury and Gemini spacecraft were built in the 1960s, and a stone’s throw from where Boeing builds the F-15, F/A-18 and T-7A today. Living in downtown St. Louis, I’m situated almost perfectly in between a number of airports where I’ve managed to photograph some incredible airplanes… from an OC-135B at MidAmerica (BLV) or a DC-3 downtown (CPS), to N757A — the first 757 built, which today is used as a testbed for the F-22 Raptor — at Lambert (STL) or a DC-9 at Spirit of St. Louis (SUS). This city is an aviation mecca.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. And as the saying goes, “When one door closes, another one opens.” Since I first started applying to jobs with Boeing half-a-decade ago, I’ve had my sights set on one city. Lucky for me, my husband Scott was just as interested in moving to this particular place. Over the last few months, planning has been in full swing, and today… well, today is the day.

Cruising above Missouri on a one-way flight to Seattle.

I’m sitting on an Alaska 737-900ER, cruising at 34,000 feet, on a one-way flight to Seattle. Our two cats, Penelope (aka Beans) and Luka (aka Buddy), are in the cargo hold, experiencing life in the sky for the first time. Scott, his dad and brother, are about to hit the road… driving our car and a truck 2,000 miles cross-country. I’ll land at my new home airport in about four hours. The guys will arrive in about four days. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for this day to come, and in many ways I feel like we’re finally “going home.”

Buddy, Beans and I checking in for our big adventure!

Scott and I will always trace our roots back to Minnesota… that’s where we met in 2010 and where most of our family still resides. And since then, we’ve been on an incredible journey with some awesome “layovers” — first in Kansas City, then back to Minneapolis, on to Chicago and now here in St. Louis. It’s been fun, but we’re both very ready to land at our final destination: Seattle.

Stay tuned for new airplanes, new stories and new adventures. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to share this particular adventure with all of you, and am eternally grateful for your support.

To blue skies and tailwinds.

A perfect end to a less-than-perfect year

I can hardly believe New Year’s Eve is just one week away. Of course, nothing will change overnight… but this year especially, I think the new year will bring a sense of renewal we’ve all been seeking for a long, long time.

For me, 2020 hasn’t been all that bad. Despite contracting COVID-19 in October, I’ve remained safe and healthy. I have a job that I absolutely love, and have continued to pursue my passion in one way or another nearly every day. I’ve been able to safely visit with friends and family fairly often, and have actually been able to fly a decent amount as well.

With that — and as many of you are well aware — I wanted to do something to give back. I sold 2021 calendars featuring my photography, with 100 percent of profits being donated to Wings of Hope — an incredible St. Louis-based nonprofit. Right off the bat, I set a goal to sell 50 calendars.

Well folks, the numbers are in.

Through your kindness and generosity, we sold 55 calendars and raised $850! Additionally, Scott and I decided to donate $150 of our own money to bring the grand total to $1,000. To those who ordered a calendar, or even helped to spread the word, I cannot thank you enough!

Yesterday I made a trip to Wings of Hope — located at Spirit of St. Louis Airport — to check out their operations and make the donation in person. It was a great experience and something I won’t soon forget. To be able to share my passion with others while simultaneously supporting a local organization like Wings of Hope is truly the bees knees. It made for a perfect end to a less-than-perfect year, and I’m so thankful to be able to share my joy with you, my fellow AV geeks.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday season, and a year ahead filled with blue skies and tailwinds.