New Orleans activist was pilot in fatal plane crash with Nancy Parker

Don Ames
August 17, 2019 - 9:36 am

New Orleans lost two strong community members a plane crash Friday afternoon. Journalist Nancy Parker and pilot Franklin Augustus were both dedicated to making their city a better place.

WVUE FOX 8 announced Friday evening that Nancy Parker, their long-time news anchor and a fixture in New Orleans reporting, was one of the passengers who passed away. 

RELATED: Journalist Nancy Parker dies in plane crash

New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell released the following statement Friday night, confirming the deaths of both Parker and Augustus in the crash. 

"For more than two decades, Nancy Parker sat opposite John Snell as the FOX 8 co-anchor and gave us the news of the day. She told it to us straight, but with a combination of professionalism, intelligence, warmth and grace we may never experience again. New Orleans did not just lose a five-time Emmy-winning journalist, or a familiar, comforting face on our TV screens. We lost a loving mother of three, a beautiful human being, and an invaluable member of our community.”

“Franklin Augustus fell in love with flying after listening to a Delta Airlines pilot as a high school senior. This native son of a longshoreman became an accomplished pilot, but he never forgot the magic he felt as a youth about flying. He spent countless hours introducing flying to area youth through the Young Eagles program and Civil Air Patrol. He spent time working with our young people, even dressing as a costumed superhero of his own creation: ‘The Drug Fighter,' to deliver a message of hope, and to help combat substance abuse.”

“Both victims lost in this tragic incident were beloved, one-of-a-kind individuals. Our hearts and our love go out to their families and all who knew them. May Nancy and Franklin both rest in God's perfect peace."

Thirty years ago, Franklin J.P. Augustus described himself as the "world's only black civilian air-show acrobatic pilot."

Along with performing aerial stunts in air shows, 69-year-old Augustus was president of the Lake Charles Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. The group aims to honor the accomplishments and history of the famous African-American pilots and other members of the Army Air Corps group formed during World War II.

He was not a Tuskegee Airman himself, but Maggie Thomas, administrative director of the group said anyone can become a member of a local chapter; members vote for presidents during elections.

Thomas described Augustus as a passionate pilot and person who was dedicated to the organization and other causes.

The historic "Tuskegee Airmen" is used to describe the men and women -- including African-Americans and Caucasians -- who were involved an Army Air Corps program to train African Americans to fly combat aircraft during World War II. The group was based at Tuskegee Institute, a historically black university in Alabama.

According to the group, Augustus was a certified flight instructor. His chapter also partnered with The Drug Fighter, an organization that seeks to prevent substance abuse, youth violence, gang affiliation and crime among youth.

As part of the program, members would dress up as superheros to try and persuade kids to stay away from drugs. The organization aimed to help children from the inner city who might have no experience in flying to develop math and computer skills that would later help them in aviation.

Augustus, who grew up in a poor neighborhood in New Orleans, was a collector of Pitts Special aerobatic planes and a love for the air show business. 

He often visited schools to encourage black students to aspire to become pilots. 

A woman who identified herself as the niece of Augustus said her..."My uncle Frank was a devoted pilot, who love flying since I was born and before then. He will be missed for sure." 

Nancy Parker’s 30-year career in broadcast journalism, including the past 25 at WVUE Fox 8, earned her some of the industry’s top awards and a reputation as a journalist who covered hard news but with tremendous heart.

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