Ned Parks Honored with Service Award from National Association of Flight Instructors

NAFI president Paul Preidecker called Service Award winner Ned Parks “a friend and colleague of the industry” and said, “when I think of role models, Ned is at the top of the list.”

NAFI presented the Jack J. Eggspuehler Service Award to Ned Parks on July 28 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. [Courtesy: NAFI]

Ned Parks is the winner of the Jack J. Eggspuehler Service Award by the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI)

Since its launch in 1967, NAFI has become the largest and oldest association dedicated to representing flight instructors worldwide. NAFI members work independently as instructors at flight schools, universities, FBOs, corporate flight departments, and even the military.

Parks Joins Iconic Recipients

The service award to Parks was presented at the NAFI annual member breakfast on July 28 at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and recognized individuals or organizations that have contributed significantly to the flight training industry. 

The award is named after NAFI’s founder, Jack J. Eggspuehler, a member of the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame who has served the association for more than 30 years. To receive the award, at least two-thirds of NAFI’s board of directors must favor the selected person or organization.

In a statement, NAFI president Paul Preidecker called Parks “a friend and colleague of the industry,” and said, “When I think of role models, Ned is at the top of the list.” 

Parks follows other well-known recipients, including FLYING contributors John and Martha King in 2019 and companies such as Avemco Insurance in 2015 for its role in insuring CFIs. This year, the group selected Parks because of what they described as his long-standing contribution to education, safety, and mentoring of other instructors, which NAFI described as “commendable.”

“He blends his passion for flying with his ability to communicate in many different settings and formats to demonstrate his dedication to flight training,” the association said in the statement.

A Rich Aviation Background

Parks attended The University of Akron and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. With more than 4,800 flight hours, Parks is rated in both fixed- and rotor-wing aircraft, with multiple certifications, including his ATP and CFII. 

While in the Army, Parks flew Bell UH-1 “Huey” helicopters and served as a ground and flight instructor. After his military career, Parks launched a business strategy and consulting firm. 

Parks hasn’t allowed his flight experience to lapse, and he’s been a member of the FAA FAASTeam, as well. He has also owned and operated many general aviation businesses, including FBOs, charter operations, and flight schools, and has led corporate flight departments.

In demonstrating why Parks earned the NAFI award, the group highlighted his wide-ranging contributions as a member. They include:

  • Presenting at the NAFI Professional Development Center, MentorLIVE, and other forums
  • Volunteering on the Membership Engagement and Recruitment Committee
  • Launching the Member Ambassador program to welcome new members to NAFI
  • Hosting the monthly Rotor Instructor Special Interest Group

‘Stay Laser-Focused on Quality Instruction’

Despite his many contributions, Parks said he didn’t see the honor coming. 

“To say I was surprised would be an understatement. To say I am honored is a bigger understatement,” Parks said. “As always, I support NAFI and flight instruction.” During his speech at the award ceremony, He called on NAFI members to “stay laser-focused on quality instruction” and said, “Whether there is a pilot shortage or not does not matter; what matters is quality instruction.”

In addition to his volunteer efforts for NAFI, he is an active volunteer in the East Central Ohio Pilots Association. He has also presented at the Helicopter Association International conference.  

Michael Wildes holds a master’s degree in Logistics & Supply Chain Management, and a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science, both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Previously, he worked at the university’s flight department as a Flight Check Airman, Assistant Training Manager, and Quality Assurance Mentor. He holds MEI, CFI & CFII ratings. Follow Michael on Twitter @Captainwildes.

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