Biographical / Historical
Parks Air College in St. Louis, Missouri, founded in 1927 by Oliver Parks, was the first federally certified school of aviation in the United States. During the 1930s, Parks Air College students manufactured their own series of aircraft (the Parks P-1, P-2 Speedster, P-2A Speedster, P-3, and P-4) but eventually the rights were sold to Ryan. Other ventures in the 1930s included Parks College Airline, a student run airline that operated until the 1950s on routes between the school and Chicago, Memphis, Indianapolis, and Kansas City. By 1936, enrollment was up to 200 students. A Civilian Pilot Training Program was established at Parks Air College in 1938 and enrollment soared. During World War II, thousands of pilots and aircraft mechanics received training at Parks Air College, and the school established a curriculum for training female pilots in 1944. In 1946, Oliver Parks donated Parks Air College to Saint Louis University where it continued to expand its facilities and course offerings. Today, Parks Air College is known as Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology.
Donald Wylan (b. 1921) attended Parks Air College, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Aviation Maintenance Engineering in 1941. Wylan then joined the U. S. Navy and served with the Naval Air Transport Service Command, Engineering Division, as a Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class. Wylan later returned to Parks Air College and served as an instructor for courses in the assembly, rigging, hydraulics, and machine shops. Wylan then worked for McDonnell Douglas in various positions including Production Planner, Supervisor of Trades Training, and Administrator of Management Development before retiring in 1983 after 32 years of service.