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PHILLIP O. PARMELEE

Early Wright Exhibition Pilot 

Phillip O. Parmelee was born at Matherson, Michigan, March 3, 1887. At age three, he moved with his parents to Grand Rapids, and then to Baldwin, Michigan. They later moved to Denver, Colorado, for a brief time and then back to St, Johns, Michigan. At St. Johns, he attended local grade and high schools, then attended and was graduated from the University of Michigan.

His first business venture was with his father making gas engines in Marion, Michigan. In 1908 he started to work for the Buick Motor Car Company of Flint, Michigan, as a road tester. He loved automobiles and soon became one of their expert test and development men, also doing some road racing for the company. While in the South on test work for Buick during the early months of 1910, he "discovered" the first Wright Flying School in  operation at Birmingham, Alabama, and became very interested in flying. In April he met and talked with Orville Wright, who was teaching the first group of civilian students. Parmelee observed the flying and training activities for several days and was very impressed. He later became fully resolved to learn to fly.

He contacted the Wrights about becoming a student and, as result, joined the school at Simms Station, Dayton, Ohio, about July 1, 1910. The Wrights were just entering the exhibition business and Parmelee was taught to fly by Walter Brookins and Al Welsh as they could find time between exhibition engagements. Cliff Turpin received his training at the same time and a real friendship developed between the two men that never diminished. The Wrights had just entered the exhibition business and engaged the well-known balloon and airship man, Roy Knabenshue, to manage this part of the work, for he was already well-versed in the necessary procedures and problems involved in carrying out such activities. 

After his training was completed, Parmelee became a member of the Wright Exhibition Team and he flew his first public engagement alone at Parkersburg, 
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