Remembering Jack Parkhurst, An “Unsung” History Maker

 Message from Historian Zellie Orr to original Tuskegee Airman, Alex Jefferson (2/18/2014):

In metro-Atlanta, my group and I have nestled into a WWII setting, the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant.  I’ve often wondered if African Americans were connected to that Fighter Group since they do not appear in the restaurant’s vast display of historical memorabilia.

Thus, my curiosity led to the “unearthing” of parachute rigger Jack Parkhurst, who was at Windsor Locks Army Air Field when the 57th FG was stationed there. [See attached newspaper clipping.]

Also, the link below is of an interview I did on Cobb County’s Library (Black History Month) show. The video may be a little slow downloading.

Zellie Orr.


Remembering Jack Parkhurst, An “Unsung” History Maker

by Zellie Rainey Orr

Researcher, Historian, Author

February 18, 2014


JackParkhurstJack Parkhurst, an African American, was a renowned rigger and parachutist. The expert barnstorming jumper appeared as a ‘double’ for many stars in Hollywood’s early aviation films.

In 1941 he worked as a parachute packer with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Canada and taught airmen how to pack the “silk umbrellas.” He also traveled abroad in bomber aircraft ferried to RAF Bases in England and taught British pilots how to use the new “silks.”

His dream of “working for Uncle Sam” came to fruition in March 1942 when he reported for duty in the supply office at Windsor Locks Army Air Base (U. S. Army Air Corps) in Connecticut. Windsor Locks, renamed Bradley Army Air Field, was home to the 57th Fighter Group. In WWII the military unit amassed a most notable record of “firsts”, including as first American fighter group to see action in North Africa.

Sources include: The Afro American (‘42), 57th FG (New England Museum), Jane Rice, et al.