I started my professional career when I was accepted in the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Flight training program in 1983. I received my commission as a Warrant Officer Grade 1 (WO1) and my Army Aviator wings in 1984 and headed to South Korea
Student Pilot Ft. Rucker Alabama. No mustache, no hair, less weight.
My call sign in Korea was Guardian 32 until I left my door unlatched while on field maneuvers and the rotor wash from another helicopter ripped it off the hinges. The guys changed my call sign to Door Buster 32. This was in 1984 and my old army pals still call me that. Some things you never live down. We flew support missions in UH-1 “Hueys” to mountain top signal sites. That’s North Korea in background.
I was assigned to the 125 ATC Battalion part of the 1st Signal Brigade from 1984 to 1985. The unit flew in support of all Army Air Traffic control and all 1st. Signal Brigade operations. It was my first experience as a leader and lucky I had some really good mentors. A few bad ones but mostly good ones.
I was super lucky to get a tour of Panmunjeom. The Joint Security Area. That is me with my fellow soldiers inside the Conference center.
Panmunjeom is located in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), 50 km north of Seoul and 10 km east from the city of Gaeseong, a city which now belongs to North Korea. This area is most notably known for the peace talks that were held here on October 25, 1951 and on July 27, 1953 when the Armistice Agreement was signed. It is now beyond the jurisdiction of both the North and South.
The conference center in Panmunjeom is surrounded by the Joint Security Area (JSA) and measures 800 meters in diameter. It is the only portion of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where North and South Korean forces stand face-to-face. It was used as a filming location of the movie “JSA (Joint Security Area).” It was also the site of military negotiations between North Korea and the United Nations Command (UNC). It has now become one of the most visited tourist sites of the DMZ.
When I left Korea I was assigned back to Ft. Rucker, Alabama as a classroom and flight instructor. I taught leadership, combat flight
My Flight Platoon Ft. Rucker, Alabama
Coming back from a training flight with my students.
This is the Holmes County Airport where I opened my first business.
When I left active duty I came back to Ohio, joined the U.S. Army Reserves and opened my first business. Parks Aviation opened it doors in 1989 at the Holmes County Airport in Millersburg, Ohio. We operated the airport on behalf of the county and ran the aviation services business. We gave flight instruction, aircraft maintenance, sold fuel and provided other services.
Parks Aviation at the Akron Fulton Airport
My outstanding team with a customers helicopter
We then moved the operation to the Akron Fulton Airport and had the business in the this building next to the famous Goodyear Airdock. We provided fuel, maintenance, aircraft charter, and other services to privately owned aircraft.
Akron Canton Airport
In 1993 it was time to upgrade again. We moved to the Akron Canton Airport, doubling in size, operations, and employees. That is Air Force One on the ramp when POTUS was in town. We also won the contract to service all military aircraft that came to the airport, dignitaries, celebrities, performers and private corporate aircraft.
Wayne County Airport Wooster, Ohio
I sold the Akron-Canton operation and was hired to manage Mid-Ohio Aviation at the Wayne County Airport in Wooster, Ohio. Mid-Ohio Aviation was a subsidiary of the Seaman Corporation. I had the privilege of working with two of the best leaders and business minds I could ask for. I had total P&L and balance sheet responsibility like I did when I owned my own company but this time I had two mentors that would sit down with me every month and we would analyze what was going on in the business.
The entrepreneurial bug bit again and I moved out of aviation altogether. I opened New Directions Learning and Development.