Pandemic can’t stop Cloquet senior

Parker Deters has had several important events canceled — including his Eagle Scout award ceremony — as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but he is still working toward his goal of becoming an Air Force pilot.

Cloquet senior Parker Deters stands by his plane before taking his first solo flight. (Photo courtesy of Cheyenne Deters)

Cloquet High School senior Parker Deters walked outside his house near Hermantown last week and started conducting an experiment.

Parker is using his time away from school to develop a foundry where he can melt aluminum and copper in the hope of making some homemade model rocket engines.

“I’ve made them in the past. I’ve been thinking about it, and while we’re stuck at home I thought I might as well try to perfect the recipe,” he said.

While waiting for schools to develop their distance learning plans during the COVID-19 crisis, students all over Minnesota have found themselves with additional time on their hands. Parker had even more spare time after Spirit Mountain closed for the season a couple weeks ago, but that’s not a problem for a soon-to-be Eagle Scout.

Parker was also the captain and driver for Cloquet’s Ripsaw FIRST Robotics team that was among the top finishing teams in the area at the regional competitions March 6-7 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.


Parker hasn’t yet been through the Eagle Scout ceremony because it was among the myriad of events postponed or canceled in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

Parker’s Eagle Scout project involved helping redevelop and improve a trail system in and around Hermantown.

“I rallied my troop together, and we went out and were trimming back all the trees that have fallen on the trail, as well as placing mulch on the low and wet spots on the trail,” Parker said.

Before the project, there were very few people using the trail near the Hermantown Government Services Building, but after they were finished, he saw a marked increase in traffic.

Parker said he’s not too worried about the move to distance learning. He said he has plenty of tools at home and his shop teacher at Cloquet has asked students to send photos and summaries of work — like oil changes and other maintenance — they are performing on vehicles. His government class works with a lot of current events, making it ideal for online or distance learning.

“I think by far the hardest one I can think of will be physics,” he said. “But even then my mom is a science teacher, and I think we can come up with ways to still do stuff.”

Parker's mother, Cheyenne Deters, is an instructor with the Cloquet Area Alternative Learning Program and also serves as a coach for the robotics team.

Parker is in the process of enlisting in Duluth’s 148th Fighter Wing in the Air National Guard. This fall he will enter basic training and tech school. Next spring he hopes to enroll in the commercial aviation program at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.


“I’ve had a dream of being an Air Force pilot since I was as young as I can remember,” Parker said. “Now that I’m old enough to enlist with the 148th, it just gets me one step closer to being able to be a pilot with them.”

Family tradition

Aviation has been a passion of Parker’s since he was 3 years old, his mom said. His great grandfather was a pilot in the Korean War and both his grandfathers flew — one commercially and the other had his private pilot’s license. What’s more, his father is an aerospace engineer and has his pilot’s license, as well.

Parker is also working toward his own pilot’s license. He had already made several strides toward that goal, including making a solo flight, before the process was suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Aviation has been a central theme for the Deters family throughout his life, according to Cheyenne. Parker and his family have volunteered with Commemorative Air Force — an organization that restores antique military aircraft and converts them into “flying museums,” according to its website.

They also frequent air shows around the region. Cheyenne said Parker has only missed the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, twice in his life.

“The rich aviation history lingers throughout the family, Cheyenne said. “He made that determination (to become a pilot). It was the same with his Eagle Scout, he made that determination when he was 4 or 5, and then he followed through and got that done ... I think he just sets small goals and then he achieves those and then he kind of works his way through to the bigger goals.”

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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