By Geoff Brown
Andrea Parks got the aviation bug at an early age, growing up with one of the world’s most prominent World War I aviation historians and enthusiasts. Her father, Dr. James Parks, made a life of collecting WWI memorabilia, including aircraft of all kinds, uniforms from both sides of the battle line and other rare artifacts. He founded the Lafayette Foundation, a museum where he housed the many relics he collected, including a Fokker D.VII WWI fighter aircraft he built from scratch using an original set of German blueprints. Dr. Parks fabricated every part of the aircraft and built the entire thing by hand. The plane has since been used in several movies, including “The Aviator.”
Parks and her twin brother, Andy Parks, helped create a new museum dedicated to their father’s collections in 1998. It is here that her father’s plane rests along with other vintage and contemporary planes and American and European collections from both WWI and WWII. The museum, located on County Road 39 outside of Fort Lupton, Colo., is dedicated to the men and women who fought in WWI, and is named after the 1916 Lafayette Escadrille, a squadron of volunteer American pilots who bravely and famously took to the skies for the French Air Force during WWI.
Andrea Parks received her Bachelor of Science degree in housing and interior environment from Colorado State University in 1985, with a concentration in construction management. She also minored in art history, which has always been a particular passion of hers, and studied abroad in Vienna, Austria, for six weeks through a program at CSU. Since then, she’s managed to incorporate all the elements of her education into a career she enjoys as both an architectural illustrator and an artist drawing portraits of people, animals and aircraft.
Parks is currently doing architectural renderings with the Kentwood Company in Denver; in addition to that, she stays busy creating her drawings and sketches, most of which she’s commissioned to do. Most recently, as a connection and a nod to her upbringing and family history, she’s been drawing airplanes and striking portraits of the famous people who fly them.
Working with Centennial Journals, whose parent company, Airport Journals, publishes 11 regional journals throughout the United States, Parks has made a name for herself creating portraits of “celebrities who have become pilots and pilots who have become celebrities.” One of these famous people who became a pilot is John Travolta. Parks got the chance to draw his portrait, and meet the actor when he received the Cliff Robertson Ambassador of Aviation Award at the recent Living Legends of Aviation award ceremony, held in January in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Airport Journals also commissioned Parks to create a portrait of Bill Anders, lunar module pilot on the Apollo 8 mission and photographer of the famous photo of the Earth rising above the moon. She has also drawn portraits of George McGovern, senator, presidential candidate and WWII fighter pilot; Dr. Forest Bird, inventor of the world’s first heart-lung respirator; Bob Hoover, decorated war veteran and a founding father of modern aircraft aerobatics; and many more. These portraits are prominently featured on the covers of the Airport Journals and are ultimately given to the men who receive these prestigious awards from the aviation industry.
Parks is available for commissioned portrait work. Examples of her stunningly realistic renderings and drawings, as well as other projects and even footage of John Travolta’s award acceptance speech, can be seen on her website, [http://www.andreaparks.com]. She can be reached at 303-434-8257.