|Death: ||Apr. 9, 1966|
New Jersey, USA
His obituary with two pictures was published in the Hunterdon County Democrat on April 14, 1966.
A link with pioneer flying days is broken today with the passing of Captain Erlon Howard ("Pete") Parker, who died Saturday in Overlook Hospital, Summit, at the age of 71.
Services for the veteran airline pilot, who was president of Parker Sales and Service Agency in Flemington for 11 years, were held on Tuesday afternoon from Holcombe Funeral Home, Flemington.
Captain Pete, who flew back from missions in World War I behind carrier pigeons, and who piloted the first scheduled commercial service between New York and Washington leaves a heritage of flying to the world.
After giving up flying with more than two and a half million miles logged, he moved to Flemington in 1950 when he reminisced to this paper about World War I flying.
"We used to take carrier pigeons with us. We'd pack several of them into the tiny cockpit. Then when fog started closing in, the gas register showed about 30 minutes of flying left, and the compass began spinning, we'd turn one loose and follow it. If we lost that pigeon, we'd throw out another.
"Our base was Dunkirk and we hit it on the nose. If we didn't, we'd have had to land in German occupied Belgium or the English Channel and open sea. The pigeons often saved us."
A close friend of Eddie Rickenbacker, Captain Parker became the first pilot in 1929 for Eastern Air Transport, forerunner of Eastern Airlines which Rickenbacker founded. In 1930, he flew the inaugural flight between North Beach (now LaGuardia) Airport and Richmond, Va. in a Ford tri-mototored "Big Tin Goose" with 12 passengers.
He flew the first Ford tri-motors around Florida to promote the use of airmail.
Captain Parker came out of retirement in August 1964 when he was honored at the celebration of the start of Eastern's 35th year of passenger service, with ceremonies at the New York's World's Fair.
Born "downcast" in Farmington, Maine, son of a carriage maker, he worked for his father then served on the Mexican border with General Pershing. His outfit, 2nd Maine Infantry of the National Guard, returned home April 1917.
World War I intervened and 50 prospective pilots from each state were shipped to France in advance of General Pershing. He received wings from the French Army and Navy and trained in Scotland with the Royal Flying Corps.
Captain Parker was with the first Aeronautical Attachment of the Navy. He flew Neuports, Spaads and Hanriots.
In 1919 Parker and three of his buddies bought three Canadian Jennys with OX5 motors and established the first Aerial Taxi and Air Express Service between Boston and North Mass. shore communities.
After joining Eastern, he became successively check pilot, chief pilot and finally operations manager for the airline's eastern division based variously at LaGuardia and Newark airports. During World War II he helped handle special Eastern assignments for the Military Air Transport Service.
Upon his retirement after 20 years of service as Operations Manager, he helped his son Emory in the Ford, Lincoln and Mercury agency in Flemington.
After he retired and moved to Hunterdon, he gave up flying with more than two and a half million miles of flying logged. He took up golf and became a member of Copper Hill Country Club.
Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, president of Eastern Airlines, said at the time Parker retired: "We are losing a very able associate, who has done a great job for Eastern Air Lines since he joined the company as a captain in 1930."
He lived first on the Croton-Quakertown Road then moved to Capoulin Farm, Pittstown, which he bought in 1949. After living at Capoulin about ten years, he moved to Summit and became a member of the Baltrusol Golf Club, the Quiet Birdmen, and the American Legion.
Surviving are his widow, Mrs. Elsie Scott Parker, at home; a son, Emory S. Parker, Flemington, a sister, Mrs. Thelma Rackes, Sharon, Conn. four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Elsie Lee Scott Parker (1894 - 1982)*
Emory Scott Parker (1911 - 1997)*
Prospect Hill Cemetery
New Jersey, USA
Created by: Ellen Johnson
Record added: Nov 16, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 100773683