History of Parks College

History of Parks College

Parks College was founded by Oliver "Lafe" Parks in 1927, just two months after Charles Lindbergh's historic flight across the Atlantic.

Anticipating the future importance of aviation, Parks very early recognized the need for instruction in aircraft design, maintenance, and flight safety. Determined to raise the standards of aviation education, Parks College became the first federally approved school of aeronautics, receiving Air Agency Certificate #1. During the World War II era, the aviation college and its subsidiaries were responsible for training one of every ten Army Air Corps pilots, plus thousands of aircraft mechanics.

Parks College becomes SLU Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology

After the war, Parks took a hard look at his college and the entire field of aviation. With characteristic vision, he realized that future aviation leaders would need a broader, more academic education. He felt the best way to ensure this breadth was to seek affiliation with a major university. In 1946, he gave Parks College to Saint Louis University, and thus the holder of Air Agency Certificate #1 became part of the oldest university west of the Mississippi.

Aviation Expands into Engineering, Computer Science and More

With university affiliation came changes necessary to increase the depth and breadth of the curriculum. The college went on to add programs in aircraft maintenance management, avionics engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, and biomedical engineering, increasing the number of undergraduate degrees offered. In the fall of 1997, after seven decades in Cahokia, Illinois, the college moved into McDonnell Douglas Hall, a new state-of-the-art building on the university’s mid-town St. Louis campus, as the Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology.

We’ve never considered ourselves to be a flight school because we’re more than that. Be a part of aviation tradition and excellence. Schedule a campus tour, and when you’re ready, apply online today.

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Get a sense of the overall intellectually vibrant environment that defines the Parks College Experience by checking out the Parks College Viewbook.