Edwards Park, best known to pilots for his contributions to “Air & Space” magazine and for his book about flying a P-39 in World War II New Guinea, died Feb. 12 from complications following a fall. He was 87.
Park was a founding editor of “Smithsonian” magazine. Including his frequent contributions to Smithsonian publications after retirement, he worked there for more than 30 years.
“Nanette: Her Pilot’s Love Story,” is the memoir of Park’s experiences as a World War II fighter pilot in the Southwest Pacific. “Nanette” was a P-39, a temperamental airplane not generally regarded very highly by its pilots, but Park loved his and the book shows it. Published in 1977, it was reissued in 1989. Park joined the Corps of Engineers in 1941, but soon transferred to the Army Air Forces and was shipped first to Australia, then New Guinea. He married an Australian nurse and, with her, returned to the United States to finish the war as a Bell Aircraft test pilot.
The couple then knocked around Australia and the southwest Pacific until 1951. Back in the U.S., Park wrote for the Boston Globe and edited National Geographic books before being invited to join the charter “Smithsonian” staff in 1969.