Meet: William "Bill" L. Sparks, Cmdr. USNR (Ret)
Wright Flyer Pilot #3!
I was born in Tombstone, Arizona, April 6, 1919. I graduated from Tucson
High School in 1937 and entered the University of Arizona, College of
Engineering. While a junior and senior at the University, in addition
to ROTC Calvary training, I entered the Civilian Pilot Training Program
and obtained both private and commercial aviation licenses. (1939-1940)
I took courses toward a civil engineering degree on a five year basis,
resigned commission in the Army, entered the U.S. Navy Aviation Cadet
Training Program, Pensacola, Florida. I received designation as Ensign
USNR, Naval Aviator, August 1941.
I was assigned as a Flight Training Instructor for two years, NAS Pensacola.
I instructed in single engine land and sea aircraft. My last year was
as an instructor in multiengine land planes, primarily instrument and
navigation flights. I received orders to Fleet Air Wing Four, twin engine
land based patrol planes PV-1, built by Lockheed. I spent a tour of combat
duty based on Attu. VPB-135 sustained so many losses, remaining pilots
and crews returned to states (November 1944) to Whidby Island, Washington.
After leave, I was assigned to the 1st Air Rescue Squadron, flying between
Saipan and Pearl Harbor, then reassigned to Naval Air Transport Squadron
VR-2 Alameda, California. I returned to civilian life in December 1945,
but I remained active in the Reserve Units.
I returned to Tucson, Arizona in 1945, and established as owner/operator
of Copper State Airways, franchised by the Arizona State Corporate Commission.
In 1946, I re-entered the University of Arizona and graduated with a Bachelor
of Science in Civil Engineering in 1947. I then joined Westinghouse Electric
Corp. and completed their Graduate Student Course in 1948.
Here we are at Moffett Field, I am second to the left.
For 37 years I was affiliated with Defense Products Marketing, covering
Aviation, Space and Underseas Engineering Programs. From 1948 through
1962 I remained active with the U.S. Naval Reserve Units, including command
of a Squadron in Seattle (1948-1951). I retired in 1964 after completing
23 years Federal service. Between the Navy and Westinghouse, I moved 27
That's me farthest to the right!
From 1954 through 1964 I was active in the Institute of Aeronautics,
later the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). In
1964 I became Chairman of the Los Angeles Section. Westinghouse moved
me to the Underseas Division midyear, located in Annapolis, Maryland.
I retired from Westinghouse in 1984 and currently live in a retirement
community in "White Sands" in La Jolla, California.
I have been involved with the Wright Flyer Project since itŐs inception
by the AIAA Los Angeles Section. I am designated Pilot #3!