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* The Parker Duofold Monoplane
* Duofold Aircraft

AN AIRPLANE THAT INSPIRED THE PARKER "51" FLIGHTER
Parker take to the air again!
from the fountain pen of Len Provisor
March 6, 1946 The Janesville Daily Gazette

"Parker Buys $65,000. Plane" A new post-war model low-wing monoplane, purchased by the Parker Pen Co. has just been flown to the Rock County Airport by John Fendenhall, company pilot.

The sleek new silver twin-engine Beechcraft D18S, serial # A-113 came off the assembly line just this week, replacing a smaller five-passenger Cessna aircraft. The plane is to be stored in a new hanger built especially for the Parker Pen Co. "

This Beechcraft airplane is believed to have inspired Kenneth Parker to produce what is known as the first of the Flighter series of fountain pens.Parker Beechcraft D18S This accompanying vintage photo shows the stunning deco pattern golden wings trailing off the nose of the plane and the engine cowlings, golden Parker "arrows" decorate each side of the fuselage. This design and decoration was not actually completed until 1948. Here you now see the very first Parker Flighter.

You can see how easily Mr. Parker became captivated by this modern silver aluminum and golden design. Four years later the Flighter pen would be introduced.

Note the registration number ("N" number) on the wing. The NC prefix, "N" being the U.S. designator,and "C" standing for Civil. Kenneth Parker was determined and had a great desire for this vanity number, and it is believed that many Parker "51" pen sets found their way from Parker executives to FAA officials in the process of their application for this designation. The first vanity number for this plane was NC5151, many years later it was changed to N51-C. This 200 mph Beechcraft was kept in service until early 1954, the first two years alone logging over 200,000 miles. Kenneth Parker himself logged as much as 40,000 miles travel on this aircraft in 1947.

This Beechcraft airplane served during the war, with many variations, from trainer, transport, aerial photography to cargo. As many as 5,000 were built through 1945, and 3,000 post war as "Executive Aircraft for Corporate America". The Parker Beechcraft was among the very first post war models delivered, coming off the production line March 2, 1946. A Beechcraft memo notes a five-chair seating arrangement, green upholstery, de-icing and anti-icing equipment, an extra nose fuel tank, an ADF compass, a range receiver and a new device marker beacon.

Kenneth Parker's attraction to aircraft was not just a personal interest, rather an acute awareness of public fascination with modern aircraft and the adventures of daring pilots and their achievements. He also realized the pace of modern business in 1946 often required the swift travel of executives for once again building the dealer network base. Recall Parker's most famous bright orange 1928 Fairchild "Duofold", christened by Amelia Earhart in December, 1928. The very same model of aircraft used by Commander Byrd to fly over the Antarctic, also this aircraft recently completed a record-breaking flight around the world in 23 days. The giant Duofold monoplane was very successful attracting the public's attention whenever flown into cities across America visiting dealers and customers. George S. Parker recognized the advantange of an executive being able to complete a business agreement with a personal handshake rather than a wireless telegram. Kenneth Parker was now carrying on the business with the same successful attitude. Any place in the world was now only a matter of hours or a few days away rather than weeks.
It's 1946, the world conflict is finally over and corporations rush to get on with their business.



Now was the time to shift the advertising theme directly to the public for "the world's most wanted pen".



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Without a doubt, the Parker "51" design and huge appeal was a catalyst for rival pen companies to rethink their products and launch an aggressive and competitive advertising approach. It appears the new product designs chosen by Waterman, Wahl Eversharp, and others would simply copy an overwhelming successful design element and attempt to give a new dressing and name. The theme or message is one of the future, high speed air travel, outer space was the ultimate new frontier as evidenced by events with missles, high altitude rockets reaching 100,000 feet, with test planes soaring to higher than ever achieved altitudes. Wiley Post, in 1935 soared to 56,000 feet in a single engine turbo-prop Lockheed Vega. He was the first to wear a high altitude "space suit" complete with a heavy steel diver's helmet. A new word came into the public's language and a stunning realization came to the public's attention…we have reached the stratosphere, the very edge of space.

The public's fascination with aviation had never diminished since the first flight at Kitty Hawk, a mere 40 some years before. This was as modern as you can get, the future was here and now. Aviation was on the very doorstep to space exploration…and The Parker Pen Co. was about to take consumers and put the future into their own hands.
If you read the newsprint ads from early 1940's you will clearly see this attitude and a striking similarity in claims of features and performance among various pen companies. The Parker "51"…like a pen from another planet". First competitive claims noticed is the critical attention-getting name "Skyliner" from Wahl-Eversharp, 1942…"Balanced like a plane in flight" alluding their pen is safe for high flight, with a "Magic Feed that prevents leaking, high in the air or at ground level." The principle feature diminishing, but not altogethor eliminating leakage at high altitudes was a higher capacity comb feed to collect excess ink. Other pens, such as the Waterman Taperite, Wahl Fifth Avenue, and many others with hooded nibs jump on the public desire for these modern and innovative new pen features. Eversharp's 1946 CA ballpoint "can't leak, even in an airplane". Sheaffer's 1946 Stratotwriter…"writing at any altitude". Parker ad, Februrary, 1949 "ink flow guarded against leaking, even at jet plane altitudes." Another 1946 Parker "51" ad even mentions "Safeguards up to 72,000 feet". 1953 Eversharp Ventura nicknamed the "Burp" pen, the clever ad calling it the Air Jet Exhaust when filling with ink.

It was a critical time also because of the introduction of a new writing instrument called a ballpoint pen. Ballpoints captured 36% of the writing instrument market by 1946, fountain pen sales having fallen from 65% of all instruments in 1941 to only 31% by year end 1946. Something new and exciting had to happen quickly in order to recapture some pen profits.
In early 1950 Parker introduces a new model that firmly plants the idea in the public mind, that the new "51" Flighter, both in name and function will unconditionally perform as promised.

It has been "airplane-ized" as literature of the day indicated.
A part of that claim was U.S. Patent #2,387,001 awarded to Marlin S. Baker assignor to The Parker Pen Company, …."the general object of the invention is to provide a fountain pen of the foregoing type which permits free venting of air from the barrel or reservoir of the pen when the pen is carried into high altitudes, as in plane travel, and which provides for the discharge of air from the barrel or reservoir by the operation of the filling mechanism."

The rest of this story is history…the Parker "51" fountain pen continued in production from 1941 through 1959, making this one of the most successful pens in history. Up to 1953 when last records were kept on "51" production, over 12 million units were produced.
Kenneth Parker continued to maintain other modern aircraft for many years, each with attractive and unmistakable Parker pen logo decoration.

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