Former WSFA-TV journalist Nancy Parker died in a plane crash Friday while covering a story for New Orleans station WVUE Fox 8 News.
Parker was in a 1983 Pitts S-2B stunt plane with pilot Franklin J.P. Augustus, who was a member of a Louisiana group honoring the Tuskegee Airmen. The plane reportedly went down in a field about a half-mile south of the New Orleans Lakefront Airport and then burst into flames. Both Parker and the pilot were killed. The FAA and the NTSB are investigating the crash.
The pilot reported problems with the aircraft shortly after takeoff, federal authorities said.
“Shortly after take-off, the pilot radioed the controller in the Lakefront Airport tower and indicated that he was having problems, which were not specified,” the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in a statement. “The controller gave the pilot a clearance to return to the airport.” The pilot did not specify what problems the plane was experiencing.
Witnesses who saw the plane go down about half a mile south of the airport in New Orleans East said the aircraft appeared to be experiencing engine problems as it climbed. The 1983 Pitts S-2B airplane pitched downward and struck the ground, the NTSB reported, citing witnesses.
A fire broke out on impact and consumed most of the wreckage, the NTSB said. Investigators are still in the early fact-gathering stages of the investigation. A preliminary report on the crash is expected “within the next few weeks.”
Parker was a native of Opelika, Alabama, and graduated with honors from the University of Alabama in 1988. Her first television job was as an Alabama Bureau reporter for WTVM Channel 9 in Columbus, Georgia. From there, she took a job at WSFA News 12 in Montgomery, Alabama. In 1990, she accepted a position in Baton Rouge, and ultimately landed on the anchor desk.
In 1996, Parker became the weekend anchor for New Orleans’ WVUE, and later an evening anchor. She was with WVUE for 23 years.
Parker was one of a handful of Gulf Coast reporters invited to the White House to interview President George W. Bush following Hurricane Katrina, and had won several awards for her work, including a 2010 Emmy for the documentary, “Archbishop Hannan and the Kennedys, the Untold Story.” She won a second Emmy in 2012 for the special report “Staying in Line,” about an ex-convict whose artwork was featured in the Smithsonian. Parker also received five Edward R. Murrow awards and numerous Associated Press and press club awards. She also penned two children’s books.
Parker is survived by her husband of 23 years, Glynn Boyd, and three children.
Mr. Boyd shared a tribute to his wife on Facebook. He said his “heart is shattered” by the loss.
“She was our road map, our compass, our guiding light. I’m lost without my wife,” he said.
According to the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., Mr. Augustus described himself as the only black civilian air show pilot in the country in a 1988 Times-Picayune story. That same year, Ebony magazine published a story that showed him with the same airplane involved in the crash. According to that article, Mr. Augustus performed “daredevil aerial maneuvers at some 500 air shows annually.”
Ms. Parker’s image by Jim Pennison | WVUE.