Aero Club  hears from Thunderbirds Pilot


††† Thunderbirdsí Leader Col. Roger Parrish 


Col. Roger Parrish, a 2007 inductee into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame, was guest speaker at the Sun Lakes Aero Club (SLAC) gathering February 17 at the Sun Lakes Country Club.

Col. Parrish showed a series of photos illustrating his flying career which included 133 combat missions in Viet Nam and 105 airshows as leader of the USAF Thunderbirds precision flying team.  He was the only person to lead the Thunderbirds in both F4 Phantom jets and T-38 aircraft.  The team transitioned to the T-38 aircraft in 1974 due to the F4ís high fuel burn.  The Phantoms were more fun to fly, he said.

Col. Parrish earned his commission by completing the ROTC curriculum at the University of Illinois in 1957.  He trained in T-28 aircraft, the moved on to T-33 Shooting Stars and flew F-100 Super Sabres at Luke AFB.  He flew both F-105 Thunderchiefs and F4s during the Viet Nam conflict.  He led a flight of F-105s during a nine and one-half hour flight from the factory in Mobile, Ala.  to a US air base in Bitberg, Germany.

          Following his experiences in Viet Nam, Col. Parrish worked for Lear Jet and American West airlines, where he flew Boeing 737s and Air Bus aircraft.  He is still an active pilot, flying his Stearman bi-plane at Chandler Municipal Airport.

SLAC sponsors programs the third Monday of the month November through April in the Sun Lakes Country Club Mirror Room. The public is invited to attend all gatherings.  Additional information is available on the clubís web site,, or by calling Bob Walch at 895-8869 or Gary Vacin at 298-7017 or