REPORT: Plane crash claims the life of iconic New Orleans stunt pilot Franklin Augustus, beloved journalist Nancy Parker

REPORT: Plane crash claims the life of iconic New Orleans stunt pilot Franklin Augustus, beloved journalist Nancy Parker
This file photo provided by NOLA.com shows Franklin Augustus and his Pitts Special Plane.

NEW ORLEANS (WAFB) - A tragic accident Friday, Aug. 16 claimed the life of celebrated and beloved journalist, Nancy Parker. A former anchor at WAFB, Parker was on assignment shooting a story in a stunt plane when, for reasons still under investigation, the plane crashed.

A report from NOLA.com identified the pilot of that plane as Franklin J.P. Augustus, self-identified nearly 30 years ago as the “world’s only black civilian air-show acrobatic pilot.”

The aviator told the Times-Picayune newspaper in 1988 that he grew up in a poor neighborhood in New Orleans, was a collector of Pitts Special aerobatic planes, and had a love for the air show business.

The Times-Picayune article said Augustus had been flying since he was 19, and he had gotten hooked on aerobatics after taking advanced flight instruction in 1978, according to NOLA.com’s report.

African Americans were barred from flying for the United States military before 1940. The first class of African American aviation cadets began training at Tuskegee in 1941, according to information documented by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Those pilots formed the Tuskegee Airmen.

Along with performing aerial stunts in air shows, Augustus was president of the Lake Charles Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., though he was not a member of the Tuskegee Airmen himself, according to NOLA.com’s report. The group aims to honor the accomplishments and history of the famous African American pilots and other members of the Army Air Corps group formed during World War II, NOLA.com’s report states.

“I want to let the young people know that if I can make it, anybody can,” Augustus said in the 1988 Times-Picayune article about efforts taken throughout his life to inspire young African Americans to become pilots.

Copyright 2019 WAFB. All rights reserved.