- THE DOUGLAS MARKETEER TB-26B N61B.
Later 1961 Parker acquired a refitted fast military USAF B-26, before A26, Douglas Invader, serial number 43-22528, converted in an executive Douglas Marketeer B-26B, a development of On Mark Engineering Co. in earlier Invader conversions, the Executive. On Mark worked with each of their customers to provide an environment that was as unique, plush, and as quiet as possible. These interiors far exceeding the standards of the best the airlines had to offer and set an example for other business aircraft to follow.
At the time of Parker purchase this aircraft had registration number N-9438Z. Subsequently, and at the request of Parker Pen Co. that wished to maintain the «61», number of its popular fountain pen, from the Parker DC-3 for sale to this Marketeer(1), the Aircraft Registration Branch modified the registry to N-61B.
The Marketeer mount an On Mark´s long nose and patented circumferential ring rear spar, replacing the original carry-through rear spar allowing the initial restricted space of the bomb-bay and area aft of the cockpit to be made a more ample passenger cabin. It had a basic price approximating $257,000 which, with electronics and other custom equipment some as high as $361,000.
The Parker N61B was powered with two reliable 2,000 hp. each Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp R-2800-79 twin-row, 18-cylinder, air-cooled radial piston engines. It was equipped with Sperry A-12 auto-pilot and dual Sperry integrated flight system, DC-6´s wheels with brakes anti-skid.
This long nose Douglas executive luxuriously finished in rich brown had its interior in walnut wood and was adapted for 8 passengers seated in four individual reclining seats, three in comfortable divan and one more in the cockpit. It had bar-cabinet, icebox and private toilet, control for light intensity, large windows and cabin passenger repeater instruments.
According to material released by the company this distinctive, sumptuous, modern in design and powerful in appearance has a cruising speed of 284 mph. and deliver a top speed of 355 mph. with a service ceiling of 22,100 ft. In its two tanks, this Marketeer loaded 1,330 gallons of fuel that allowed a long-range of 1,400 miles. The aircraft had a takeoff run of 4,000 feet at gross max weight.
The Parker N61B weight 22,850 pounds when empty and can carry a useful load of 4,750 pounds. Fifty-one feet in length and 70 ft. wingspan are its exterior measurements. The cabin is luxuriously large for the comfort of both, pilots and passengers.
Dick Wixom, who went to work for Parker Pen as a pilot in 1958, remembered in 1999: “Parker had an airplane since 1928. I flew a 14-passenger DC-3 on these junkets. But Parker Pen had too a B-26, a refitted military plane that was very fast and carried eight passengers. We’d go out east and pick up $10 million worth of silver and gold. The precious metal was used on pen casings and for points. The insurance company put a stop to that. I guess they thought we’d be hijacked. Dan Parker believed strongly in doing business with Janesville people—even to the extent of buying a local Christmas tree and flying it hundreds of miles to the south. When Dan’s kids were young, every year we hauled a great big tree down to them in Florida—15, 20 feet high. We had a heck of a time getting it into the airplane. They thought that was the funniest thing. Parker Pen didn’t abandon its pilots. The company gave each a month’s severance pay for every year of employment. Parker also tried to give them other jobs. They said: ‘Don’t worry. Come up to the plant and write a test. We´ll find what you’re best suited for and guarantee you a job`…Dan was very helpful in starting my business; he wrote me a couple letters of recommendation. I still have that letter(5).
- Letter dated September 29, 1965 sent by Parker Pen, signed by Roy Coyle, to the Federal Aviation Agency.
- Photos taken by Curt Claus, Gordonsville, VA (c. 1966).
- Robson, G. (June 1, 2017). “On Mark Marketeer”. Pilot Magazine.
- Photo collected from https://www.wisconsinaviationhalloffame.org/inductees/wixom.htm
- Hengelbert S. “Parker used airways to pursue prosperity” (January 20, 1999). The Janesville Daily Gazette, p.4
- PARKER HELICOPTERS.
Daniel Parker, who piloted both airplanes and helicopters, started his first helicopter business in 1955.
”Parker Pen Co., a pioneer in corporate aviation, has installed the first designated heliport in Wisconsin on the roof of its plan at Janesville. The port, a 75-foot square with an inner triangle pointing to magnetic north, will be used by helicopters which serve the firm occasion. Additionally, it will be serve as an air market for aircraft flying in the Janesville area. The Parker firm has owned and operated fixed-wing aircraft since 1928(1).”
Presiding Parker Pen Co., Daniel Parker founded Omniflight Inc. Established in 1962 leasing land and hangar space from the Rock County Airport, at that time, using a Bell 47, flight operations focused as an agricultural helicopter service, contracting its small bubble-top helicopters out for crop-dusting, fertilizing and seeding jobs to canning companies and individual farmers. With the addition of six five-seater Jet Rangers, that can cruise at 140 miles an hour, Omniflight expanded into the fields of forestry, mining, power, transportation and photography, operating across the United States continuing grow until it reached a fleet of a hundred helicopters.
In 1974 Omniflight farms out its fleet of 15 helicopters for various jobs across the country. The company was also certified as a Bell Helicopter Co. service station and Federal Aviation Administration approved repair facility, doing repair and maintenance service for Bell manufactured aircraft, and for the Jet Rangers, jet turbine helicopters which were put on the market in 1970. In these years, Omniflight also maintains a large fleet of trucks that travel with the helicopters, storing chemicals and fuel. The traveling support fleet enables the aircraft to operate without a nearby airport. Omniflight designed a portable tank carrier that clamps on to the underbelly of a helicopter, carrying large quantities of chemicals or sprays. The design was sold to a manufacturer and is being marketed worldwide.
In 1987 we could read: “The Sky’s the Limit. Omniflight has grown far beyond its under Parker’s direction, it has grown to a nationwide marketer of helicopter services to hospitals, airlines, broadcasters, law enforcement agencies and offshore oil companies. Expanding into the world marketplace was a natural move for Parker who often traveled to foreign countries during his work in Washington. D.C., as a senior government official. “Leaving an organization like Parker and a small town. I didn’t feel I could be challenged after living in Washington without getting reinvolved in Parker … and I didn’t want to do that.” His massive Charleston home is in a “very charming area” with the ocean at his back door and is 15 miles from the office. Janesville, site of the largest Omniflight office, remains close to his heart, the 62-year-old Parker said. “I still have a home there. Janesville is a charming, wonderful town—my roots are there.” The Parker Pen Co., of which he was Honorary Chairman and board member until recently, was his introduction into business as well as international travel. From there he went to Washington to take a government job, and his involvement in Parker’s operations lessened” (2).
In 1992 Daniel Parker died of complications during a bone surgery.
In 2011, Air Methods acquired Omniflight Helicopters, Inc. and operates it as a wholly owned subsidiary. Omniflight Helicopters consisted of over 100 helicopters.
Actually operating helicopters for air medical services and support, the Company provides inter-facility transport of transferring patients and on-site emergency scene response.
(1) Flying Magazine (November, 1960)
(2) Hearing V. “The Sky´s the limit” (June 8, 1987). The Janesville Daily Gazette, p.4.
(3) Photo collected from http://www.air-and-space.com/20110115%20IWA.htm
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