The Education Center at the Museum of Aviation

Did you know that the Museum of Aviation Foundation, Inc. operates the Education Center at the Museum of Aviation?  The Education Center operates 5 major programs, and serves an average of 50,000 students and teachers a year through its hands-on STEM and History focused programs.  Field trips, STEM Labs, Summer Camps, and other educational special events are held throughout the year for participants as young as 4 years old.

The Aviation Heritage Center is home to the Museum’s Guided Tour programs as well as birthday parties, scouts programs, and special history programs like the WWII Outreach program and the GA Studies Tour.  Each year, Ms. James, the history program coordinator, makes a special visit to local retirement centers to spend time with veterans and coordinates many veteran focused tours at the Museum.

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The National STEM Academy operates STEM focused programs for schools and individuals throughout the year.  Programs are offered to Pre K – 12th grade students and vary per theme and grade level.  Computer classes, the Mission Quest Flight Simulation program, ACE, and specialized STEM summer camps are just a few of the offerings each year.  All classes feature hands-on activities for students and promote workforce development opportunities in STEM careers.  Sponsorship and volunteer opportunities are always available.

Offering something for everyone is what the Education Center strives for.  With the STEM Training Academy for Teachers (STAT), the Education Center completes the circle, offering classes for adults and educators as well as internship opportunities for college students.  It’s home to Georgia’s NASA Regional Educator Resource Center that holds monthly professional development workshops and offers free resources to teachers for use in their classrooms.

teacher-workshop

Rounding out the five programs are STARBASE Robins and GYSTC.  STARBASE Robins is part of the premiere Department of Defense STARBASE STEM Program.  The program engages students through its inquiry-based curriculum with its “hands-on, mind-on” experiential activities. The goal is to motivate students to explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) as they continue their education.  During each student’s 25 hours of instruction, they are introduced to many STEM concepts and skills as well as 3D modeling and 3D printing.  STARBASE ROBINS programs include its signature fifth grade program as well as its STARBASE 2.0 Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program, summer academies and robotics tournaments.

GYSTC or Georgia Youth Science and Technology Center is available for K – 8th grade students and teachers. Student outreach programs and teacher professional development programs at member elementary and middle school sites are offered.  GYSTC partners with the Georgia Department of Education, business/industry leaders and local member schools to feature Family Science Nights, the STARLAB portable planetarium, teacher training workshops and student workshops.

With so much to offer the Middle GA community, it’s impossible to cover it all in one article, but we have tried to give you a synopsis of what you can expect from the Museum of Aviation’s Education Center.  Visit their website anytime to get detailed information on the different field trips and programs that they offer and check out the Summer Camp classes coming up while you’re there!

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A High School Senior’s Perspective

Note from curator Mike Rowland: Ross Schumacher, who recently graduated from Veterans High School, came to the museum during the spring semester as part of the “Professional Interest Exploration” program. I asked Ross to share some thoughts about his experience at the museum. Here’s what he wrote:

As a Veterans High School student, soon to be entering college, I elected to take a Humanities course, to see how my last eleven years of history, literature, and art classes tied into the human experience. Part of this class was to begin my real world experience in my future career field. As I plan to be a history major in college, I thought of no better place to get this experience then a museum close to home, the Museum of Aviation.

Since my first day of work at the museum I have had many experiences that many others would not have just visiting. I began with essentially a speed run of the museum, having to visit every hangar in a little less than two hours, during which I had to give my impressions of the best and worst exhibits, which was difficult most because most of the exhibits are so good. From the experience from the WWII paratrooper exhibit in Hangar 3 to the new information to be gained in the Eagle Building, I saw it as a museum to be proud of in my town.

As for the actual work I have done for the museum, I’ve helped with several jobs in the museum, especially in the Heritage Building which is now Collections, holding all items the museum doesn’t have on display. I’ve seen bombs, goggles, unit patches, personal items, and weaponry, used and experimental. I’ve done inventory in the Heritage Building, on a computer sorting processed items from unprocessed ones, and climbed through a warehouse in restoration looking for weapons systems for a new exhibit. Other days I’ve done other jobs, such as helping the Curator measure spaces for the new exhibit. Some days were more exciting than others, as many days I just did filing or moved folders from one cabinet to another, one day I simply observed as a the B-29 Superfortress was raised in the WWII Hangar.

Since my school year is ending and with it my experiences at the museum, I was asked to write a blog post detailing my experiences here. Honestly, I’ve hardly scratched the surface of the experiences possible at the museum. Warner Robins is gifted with a free admission museum that has a large collection and a staff that makes the most of their resources. Many of my classmates may have not seen the value of this job experience program, but I can gladly say I have gained experience that will translate into my future career.

Ross Schumacher

My New Favorite Airplane: The C-140 JetStar

People sometimes ask me to name my favorite airplane. My answer is usually the one I’m learning the most about at the time. What that means is my favorite airplane tends to change. Right now, it’s the Lockheed C-140 JetStar. I think the JetStar is an interesting and attractive airplane with a fascinating history.

Business jets are common today but the JetStar was the first jet designed and built specifically as an executive and VIP (“Very Important Person”) transport. It captured the fancy and imagination of many during the 1960s. George Haddaway, a pilot and publisher of Flight Magazine said, “This plane makes me want to be 19 again and just starting to fly.” Robert Fowler, editor of the Cobb County Times in Marietta, Georgia, said, “A flight in the JetStar is an experience one must have if he is to realize fully what is in store for this Jet Age.”1

The prototype Jetstar flew for the first time on September 4, 1957. The JetStar’s engines were mounted on the rear fuselage in what was then an unconventional design. The two prototypes were built in Burbank,California, and had two engines. Production JetStars were built here in Georgia at the Lockheed plant in Marietta and had four engines. Lockheed-Georgia built just over 200 JetStars.

Front view of a JetStar in flight. Distinctive features include the four engines mounted  on the rear fuselage, two per side, and the “slipper tanks” on the wings that carried fuel.
Front view of a JetStar in flight. Distinctive features include the four engines mounted on the rear fuselage, two per side, and the “slipper tanks” on the wings that carried fuel.

The JetStar had a top speed of about 600 miles per hour, though it cruised most efficiently around 500 miles per hour. It had a range of over 2,200 miles and could seat 10 passengers. In 1962, the legendary pilot Jacqueline Cochran set numerous aviation records while flying a Jetstar from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Bonn, West Germany.

The United States Air Force (USAF) bought sixteen C-140 JetStars. The Warner Robins Air Materiel Area at Robins Air Force Base (AFB), Georgia, had worldwide logistical management responsibilities for the JetStar throughout its service life.

The Air Force Communications Service (AFCS) used five C-140As equipped with electronic gear to check the accuracy and reliability of navigational aids and air traffic control systems at U.S. military installations around the world. The JetStar was able to duplicate the flight patterns of high-performance military aircraft and served in this role for decades. In late 1962, three C-140As were assigned to the 1852nd Facility Checking Flight at Robins AFB, with more scheduled for delivery at the beginning of 1963.2

An Air Force Communications Service C-140A JetStar in flight in the early 1960s.
An Air Force Communications Service C-140A JetStar in flight in the early 1960s. What a cool paint scheme!
A technician checks the test console inside an Air Force Communications Service C-140A.
A technician checks the test console inside an Air Force Communications Service C-140A.

On November 7, 1962, a C-140A crashed while landing at Robins AFB. The aircraft burst into flames and five men, all residents of Warner Robins, died: Major Lee M. Tappan, Captain Earl B. Butler, Captain Joseph Q. Spell, Captain Thomas L. Edmondson, and Technical Sergeant Billie E. Garrison. The sole survivor was Captain Dendy Lewis, who managed to get out of a cockpit window and was then dragged to safety by a young Airman from Albany, Georgia, named Thomas J. Brice.3  Lewis suffered severe burns but recovered and returned to flying. In 1966, he landed a JetStar on the aluminum mat runway at Chu Lai Air Base,South Vietnam, to pick up a ground crewman who was under fire.4

Firefighters extinguish the JetStar that crashed while landing at Robins AFB in 1962.
Firefighters extinguish the JetStar that crashed while landing at Robins AFB in 1962.
JetStars wore a camouflage paint scheme for operations in Southeast Asia during the  Vietnam War. This C-140A is taking off from Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam.
JetStars wore a camouflage paint scheme for operations in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. This C-140A is taking off from Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam.

Eleven C-140Bs were assigned to the Military Airlift Command. Six were flown as VC-140Bs on special government and White House airlift missions by the 89th Military Airlift Wing at Andrews AFB, Maryland. The Museum of Aviation’s JetStar, serial number 61-2488, entered service in October 1961 and was the first VC-140B delivered to the USAF.

61-2488 shortly after it entered USAF service.
61-2488 shortly after it entered USAF service.
JetStar 61-2488 wearing US presidential markings.
JetStar 61-2488 wearing US presidential markings.

Lyndon B. Johnson (“LBJ”) liked the JetStar and used it often as both vice president and president, primarily to fly to his ranch in Texas but also for other trips. Whenever the President was on board, it flew under the call sign “Air Force One.” We have documentation of LBJ flying on 61-2488 numerous times from 1964-1968. President Gerald R. Ford also flew on 2488 at least once. I’d love to find records showing that other presidents flew on this airplane. We’re told that 2488 was used by many high-ranking government officials, including Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

President Johnson (at right, looking out the window) aboard the museum’s JetStar  on June 3, 1966 enroute to his ranch. (LBJ Library/photo by Yoichi Okamoto.)
President Johnson (at right, looking out the window) aboard the museum’s JetStar on June 3, 1966 enroute to his ranch. (LBJ Library/photo by Yoichi Okamoto.)
Aerial view of JetStar 61-2488 on June 24, 1967 at President Johnson’s  ranch in central Texas, about 50 miles west of Austin. (LBJ Library photo.)
Aerial view of JetStar 61-2488 on June 24, 1967 at President Johnson’s ranch in central Texas, about 50 miles west of Austin. (LBJ Library photo.)
JetStar 61-2488 in the 1970s.
JetStar 61-2488 in the 1970s.

The C-140 was capable and versatile, but by the early 1980s the Air Force was looking for a replacement. JetStars were out of production and spares were getting expensive. The JetStar was also not as fuel efficient as newer designs. 61-2488 was retired in 1984 after accumulating over 11,500 hours of flight time. It was flown to Robins AFB for preservation at the Museum of Aviation in 1985 and is currently on display in the Scott Exhibit Hangar. It is the only C-140 JetStar on display in the Southeast. And it’s my favorite airplane—for now.

Mike Rowland, Curator

Notes:

1. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation. What it’s Like to Fly in the JetStar: Writers and Newscasters from Coast to Coast Give Reactions to Flights in New Jet Utility Plane. Marietta: Lockheed-Georgia Division, News Bureau, n.d. Print.

2. United States Air Force. C-140 Crashes at Robins, Five Killed, One Injured. Robins Air Force Base: Warner Robins Air Materiel Area, Office of Information, 8 November 1962. Print.

3. Ibid.

4. United States Air Force. Whatever Happened to Captain Dendy  Lewis? Robins Air Force Base: Warner Robins Air Materiel Area, Office of Information, 2 November 1966. Print.

From Indecision to Internship

This story began last summer. I was a junior without any career goals; I lacked drive and direction. I was more than upset that I had gone through several majors and none of them felt right. It came to the point that I absolutely had to choose a major. After working hard all summer, I decided to take a trip from Utah to Georgia with two of my friends. Just in case you don’t know how long that is, it’s roughly 2,000 miles and about a 30-hour drive. The drive started as a vacation and ultimately ended up shaping my entire future. 

During the week, my friends and I wanted something to do while my family was at work. We looked for something to do, but it was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday in Middle Georgia. I was hoping to find a Civil War reenactment to keep us entertained; unfortunately the reenactments don’t happen everyday. After that I remembered someone mentioning an aviation museum. Our options were limited. It was decided-we were going to the museum.

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Caity Hungate in a cockpit simulator in the Eagle Building during her visit to the museum in 2012.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much out of it. I thought that it would be like the majority of the other museum that I’ve visited-boring and barren. I was wrong.

As we pulled into the parking lot I was astonished. The museum was massive. My optimism continued to grow as I walked through the doors of the Eagle Building. There was so much to see. The exhibits were engaging and fun! As we were about to leave, we were informed there were three more hangars to look at.

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Picture Caity took of aircrafts in the Scott Exhibit Hangar.

The Scott hangar was our next stop. This Hangar was even better than the first. There were planes as far as the eye could see. My enthusiasm grew as we went from one exhibit to the next. I slowly remembered what it felt like when my mother took me to museums as a child; I remembered that feeling of curiosity mixed with excitement. It was when I was exploring the “Down to Earth” exhibit that it clicked. Suddenly it all made sense. I loved history; it was one thing that didn’t get old for me (no pun intended). I was going to major in history.

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Entrance to the “Down to Earth” exhibit in the Scott Exhibit Hangar. The exhibit is about the airborne invasion of Normandy during WWII.

At first, I experienced a lot of opposition from those who felt that teaching high school was the only thing that I could accomplish with a history degree. That is not the case. I have narrowed it down to two possible career choices: 1. Study museology and work in a museum or, 2. become a history professor. Currently I want to become a professor.

I have since decided that I would like to get my master’s degree in public history and then a Ph.D. in a related field. I have also considered a degree with a strong emphasis in American History/

I currently study at Brigham Young University. They like for their students to get real world experiences through internships. Like many majors, the history major requires an internship. I needed to find a place that fueled my passion for history and of course the Museum of Aviation was the most obvious choice. I was able to go back to the place that started it all. I got to help future generations learn to love the past. Maybe something I’ve done will help someone who lacks direction, like my past self.

My experience at the museum was wonderful. My love of American history increased as I learned about aviation. I learned what it feels like to work in a museum. I’ve been able to go from a clueless junior in college to a senior with a plan. The internship was a crucial part of my plan. It helped me develop some of the skills that I need for my future career.

This may sound a bit odd, but my future started when I walked into that exhibit. I find it astonishing that looking into the past can actually help us find our future. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. People learn in many different ways. Not everyone can get the most out of a topic by merely reading about it; they must have some experience with it to understand it. I am definitely one of those people. I love this museum because you get to experience history. This realization helped me decide that I want to be the person that makes history engaging for people. I want to be that professor that helps her students see that history is more than just the past; it’s something that impacts our future. I want them to see that those famous historical figures are more than faces in a book. They are people that can inspire and teach us valuable lessons long after they’re gone.

Caity Hungate was an intern at the museum May-June 2013

Trading Up for Historic Value

Today a very unique aircraft was brought through the front gate of the Museum of Aviation. F-100D tail number 56-2995 arrived on the back of a tractor-trailer and was greeted by an old friend, retired Major General Rick Goddard. Goddard flew 995 on 180 of his 226 combat missions during the Vietnam War. Goddard was Commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base from November 1997 to February 2000. This connection is not simply irony or a convenience.  Because of its combat history and the connection to Goddard, this F-100D is much more meaningful to the local area and has a much greater historical value than the F-100C that it replaced.

 

995 as it appeared during the Vietnam War

 

Without a story an aircraft, or an object, is simply a part or collection of parts that do nothing more than decay over time. Personal stories add historic value to these objects, they make them come alive and help people connect with history. This historic value is both inherited and assigned, in that an objects’ lineage is only as good as our record keeping or ability to definitively connect it with a story. The F-100C that was here before Goddard’s F-100D had a history with no combat and no personal connection to the Middle Georgia area. Most of its value was what we, as a museum, had placed on it for being a type example.  There are certain things that give an aircraft or object more value for a museum. Some of these reasons are location specific. 995 is especially valuable to the Museum of Aviation because of the connection with Goddard, who still lives in the area and because it was sent straight to Robins Air Force Base from the factory for a modification. Other reasons for assigning historic value are broader. 995 has a significant combat history from the Vietnam War and replaces an aircraft that had none. These reasons are often weighted against the logistical and financial concerns of obtaining an object or aircraft.

 

Goddard greets 995 as it arrives at the Museum of Aviation

 

Whenever a new aircraft is made available to the Museum of Aviation, or plans are made to add a specific aircraft to the collection, research is done into the history of the tail number. Aircraft that have connections to Robins Air Force Base or someone from the local area are always of interest. However, often the Museum wishes to add an aircraft that has no specific connection to the area. In these cases, we search for aircraft that have specific or distinguished history to their tail numbers. Combat history, citations awarded to crews and participation in specific historically significant missions are just a few of the things that we look for when identifying an aircraft. Aircraft in the current inventory here are also sometimes candidates for replacement, as with 995 replacing the F-100C. An example is our F-111E (tail number 68-055) that we hope to replace with an F-111F (tail number 70-2413) that flew under the call sign Karma 51 in the El Dorado Canyon mission and also flew combat in Desert Storm. Sometimes we identify these “replacement” aircraft and other times they are brought to our attention by others (Goddard notified the Museum of 995).

There are no hard and fast rules to define historic value. A uniform worn by an individual during peace-time service can be quite valuable to someone with close ties to that person. The uniform may also hold some value in a museum, as a general or specific example depending upon the scope of the collection. The F-100C that was replaced by 995 was a very important part of some people’s story. Pilots sweated through flights in it and maintenance personnel put their hard labor into it. Whenever possible, and this is the case for the F-100C which will serve as a static display at Otis Air National Guard Base, the Museum tries to ensure that artifacts that are replaced find a home that plans to conserve them. However, in the end, there is no way for museum’s to preserve everything and hard decisions about historic value must be made.

 

Flag Observations Part 2

Last week we looked at some flags from the observation gallery on the third floor of the Eagle Building here at the Museum of Aviation.  In part II of that post we will look at three flags from the Confederate States of America as well as several variants of the “Don’t Tread on Me” motto as used on flags. Some of these flags are still in use today.

Green Mountain Boys Flag
Modern use of the Green Mountain Boys Flag by the Vermont National Guard

The Green Mountain Boys Flag was used by the likewise named militia force commanded by Ethan Allen. The militia was formed to defend the property of people in what is today the state of Vermont and went on to serve in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and the Spanish-American War. Both the flag and the name Green Mountain Boys are still in use today by the Vermont National Guard.

First Naval Jack
Modern use of First Naval Jack aboard a U.S. Navy ship

Tradition states that the “Don’t Tread on Me” design was first used by the Continental Navy in 1775. This jack (a type of naval flag flown at the head of a ship) has become a powerful American symbol and is still currently in use with the U.S. Navy. The rattlesnake was first used as symbol of the Colonies by Benjamin Franklin in his “Join or Die” political cartoon around 1754.  The rattlesnake was used, among other reasons, because it gives a warning and doesn’t strike until provoked.

Gadsden Flag

A snake as a symbol of the Colonies is most often attributed to Benjamin Franklin and his famous editorial cartoon. This version of the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag was designed by Colonel Christopher Gadsden. The flag first flew in combat with the Navy in February of 1776 and is one of most recognized versions of the type.

Culpeper Minutemen Flag

Minutemen of Colonel Patrick Henry’s First Virginia Regiment from Culpeper, Virginia, used this flag during the Revolutionary War. The flag differs from other “Don’t Tread on Me” designs by adding a section of Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death” quote.

California State Flag
California Republic Flag

State Flag of California – A group of settlers in California declared independence from Mexico in 1846 under the original variant of this flag.  The California Republic was never officially recognized and lasted a total of 26 days until the United States claimed the area. The original flag was lost in the fires that followed the Great 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

Confederate First National Flag (13 star version)

Commonly called the “Stars and Bars,” the Confederate First National Flag is not the flag that most think of when the Civil War is mentioned. It was adopted with seven white stars in March 1861 with stars added as new states joined the Confederacy. The final version in November of 1861 had 13 stars.

Confederate Second National Flag
Confederate Third National Flag

Confederate leadership felt that the “Stars and Bars” was too close in appearance to the United States Flag and therefore adopted the Confederate Second National Flag in May of 1863. A red stripe was added to this version in March of 1865 to avoid the confusion of looking like a surrender flag. This final version was known as the Confederate Third National Flag.

Flag Observations Part 1

On the third floor of the Eagle Building here at the Museum of Aviation we have an observation gallery. It is a great place to take in the grounds, giving a unique view of many of our outdoor aircraft exhibits as well as the amphitheater space. The Victory Café is located nearby also, so a snack or lunch while you enjoy the view is always an option. Hanging above you as you sit and enjoy the view are 42 (soon to be 45) flags from the history of the United States. The flags are currently without individual captions, other than a sign at the entrance to the observation gallery noting their presence and giving some basic information. We are about to give each flag its own caption to help visitors better understand their historical significance. I learned some interesting things while preparing these captions and the visual aspect of flags has always interested me. With that in mind I picked a few of the more visually appealing (and in some cases historically obscure) flags from the gallery to share with you.

Raven Banner

This flag drew my attention initially simply because of its unique shape and design. It is known as the Raven Flag or Raven Banner.  This was a Scandinavian or Viking flag that was possibly brought with them on their journeys to North America. Scholars believe the image of the raven was a reference to Odin, the Norse god of war and death.

Rhode Island Regimental Colors

The Rhode Island Regimental Colors is beautiful flag that, like the Raven Banner, first piqued my intersest because of its looks. Carrying this flag, members of the Rhode Island militia were among the first to join the Minutemen in Boston in 1774. The starry area in the flag symbolized national unity and the anchor has been used as a symbol of government since 1647.

Bedford Flag

Another unique design that caught my eye. The Latin inscription on the flag is “Vince Aut Morire,” which means “Conquer or Die” while the arm emerging from the cloud represents the arm of God. The original Bedford Flag may be the oldest complete flag known to exist in the United States. The flag has a controversial history, go here for the primer.

Washington's Cruisers Flag

In opposition to the busy look of the Bedford Flag above, Washington’s Cruiser Flag is a study in simplicity. Washington launched a group of boats in the fall of 1775 that flew the flag. The tree was a reference to the New England Liberty Tree while the “APPEAL TO HEAVEN” was in reference to the overwhelming odds faced by the Continentals.

Commodore Perry's flag

Commodore O.H. Perry hoisted this flag during the War of 1812. It features the dying words of his friend Captain James Lawrence, who was mortally wounded in battle. Perry won a decisive victory over the British fleet during the War of 1812 under this flag.

Guilford Courthouse Flag

The Guilford Courthouse Flag is easily recognized because of its reverse colors from the standard United States flag. It also features eight pointed stars. The flag was flown in 1781 during the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Serapis Flag

John Paul Jones flew this flag on the captured British ship Serapis and it is therefore known as the Serapis Flag. The flag is similar to the U.S. flag of the era but is unique in that it features blue stripes along with the normal red and white ones. The 13 stars on the flag also vary from eight to seven points.

The Importance of Voice

America has a rich tradition of stories being passed down through families and friends. Growing up, these stories often formed much of the basis of what was known about genealogy and history. There were tall tales, funny little insights and full-blown recounted acts of heroism. These stories always made family reunions eventful and family dinner time exciting for me. Something about the rich account of the past through stories brought history to life for me.

Years later, as an undergraduate and even more so a graduate student, I have gained a new-found appreciation for stories. Modern historians call them oral histories’ which are defined by Merriam-Webster on their website as “tape-recorded historical information obtained in interviews concerning personal experiences and recollections.” This definition is somewhat dated however, in that now many oral histories are videotaped. It is a unique thing to hear someone who participated in an event, who had a front row view of history, talk about it. I have talked briefly about oral histories once before here, but I am not sure I left any of you with the impression of just how important I think they are. Without a human connection, museums simply become storage facilities.  There is not much that can connect a visitor to an aircraft or artifact quicker than hearing a personal story that relates to that object. It is immensely important that historians and the general public go about the business of collection oral histories. As veterans age quickly the opportunity to collect their unique stories is quickly closing for many parts of history. World War II veterans are a great example of this, as we lose more of them every day.

Video cameras have become a common and useful tool for historians when recording oral histories.

As with any subjective work, an oral history should be used with caution. Time can fade memory, and sadly (and while few and far between) there are those who would intentionally mislead both historians and the public for their own gain. Oral histories should be grounded and placed within fact based context. When these policies are followed, oral histories can provide an amazing framework for museums to present their artifacts in.

The Museum of Aviation had the opportunity last week to collect several oral histories from members of the C-7 Caribou Association.  We are much indebted to those men, not only for their service to this country, but for the time and emotional investment it took to share their memories with us. We hope to continue to collect oral histories here, and are especially interested in members of the local community who served in the Air Force, at Robins Air Force Base or in other branches of the military. We are currently working on exhibits on the Air Force Special Operations in the Vietnam War and our MH-53 #70-1626 so people with connections to any of those are of special interest. Take time to look through the oral history links below for some more reading on the subject.

Veterans History Project – Library of Congress oral history project focusing on veterans

UWG Center For Public History – Atlanta area source for oral history information and support

Oral History Association – General source for oral history information

American Rhetoric – Database of oral histories and speeches

Meet the Staff: Mike Rowland

A while back, when we first started this blog, I promised to offer a meet the staff feature from time to time. This post will be the first such entry. It is our hope that the meet the staff feature will be a way for the community to get to know our staff and the hard work that they do.

Name & Job Title: Mike Rowland, Curator

Where are you originally from/What do you consider your hometown: My dad was in the Navy and we moved around a lot, but I went to high school in Williamsburg, Virginia, so I guess I call that my hometown.

Tell us a little about your educational background: I thought I wanted to be a high school history teacher but I got into the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps as a junior at Brigham Young University. After graduating in 1996 with a bachelor’s in humanities, I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force. I served on active duty for six years as an aircraft and munitions maintenance officer and that was an important period of personal and professional development.  During that time, I researched careers in museums and did some volunteer work. I separated from the Air Force in 2002 and went to the University of Florida. I graduated in 2004 with a master’s degree in museum studies.

What sorts of hobbies do you enjoy or what do you do in your free time: I have five children so I don’t have a lot of free time. I wouldn’t trade it though—I love my wife and kids. I’m heavily involved with my church. I like to do craft and science projects with my kids and I’ve dabbled with building wooden toys. I’m the oldest of six kids and I put together a family newsletter 2-3 times a year to help us stay connected.

How long have you worked at the museum: I started at the museum in August 2004 as the archivist. I became curator in June 2008.

What does your job entail: I’m responsible for the museum’s collection of historic objects (“artifacts”) and archival materials such as documents and photographs. I also do research and write exhibit storylines. From my perspective, my job is to collect and preserve historic materials and stories for future generations while using those materials and stories to make a positive difference in people’s lives right now.

If you were not working here at the museum, what kind of job would you like to have: I like to think that if I wasn’t working here at the Museum of Aviation, I’d be at another museum. Museum work fits my personality, training, and experience and allows me to be creative and serve the community. If I wasn’t a museum professional, I’d probably still be on active duty in the Air Force.

How does being a museum employee change your experience when you visit other museums? I look a lot more at the technical details of how the exhibits are organized and put together. I’m always looking for good ideas we might be able to apply and ineffective applications we should avoid. I do try hard though to keep the perspective of a “regular” visitor.

What is your favorite aircraft or exhibit at the museum and why: My favorite aircraft at the museum is the one I’m most focused on at any particular time. Right now it’s the MH-53M Pave Low IV tail number 70-1626. We’re developing an exhibit about it and the people who flew and maintained it. It is a beast of an aircraft with an amazing history. It came into service with the Air Force in 1971 only a few months before I was born. It retired two years ago around the time I became curator. The Pave Low veterans are passionate about the history and it’s been great to get to know some of them and hear their stories.

Thanks for reading our first meet the staff feature, I hope you enjoyed it. if there are certain questions you would like to hear our staff members answer, just let me know.

The Huey

Mention the Vietnam War to someone in the United States and for many the image that comes to mind is the Bell UH-1 Iroquois. There is perhaps no greater connection in the collective American conscious between a war and a piece of equipment. The UH-1 is most commonly called the Huey in reference to its original designation, the HU-1.The museum’s Huey sits in Hangar One, which is undergoing some very interesting changes. The work we have been doing in the hangar has given me the opportunity to spend some time around our Huey over the past few days. The Huey is an amazing helicopter with a military service life that began with the Army in the 1960s and continues on today with the Marine Corps and in limited numbers with the Air Force. I find it almost impossible to walk by it without feeling a sense of pride and nostalgia.

The work being done in Hangar One will change the focus of the building towards Southeast Asia and the Vietnam War. As part of this process many aircraft are being moved around, new dioramas are taking shape and the general ambience of the building is changing. Our restoration crew has been hard at work with both the aircraft and building preparations. The guys in that department do an incredible behind the scenes job and are an integral part of the Museum of Aviation team. Without them exhibits like the one being built around our UH-1 would not be possible.

The UH-1 on display in Hangar One is a P model. It served with several units in both the United States and Southeast Asia in utility and special operations roles. One of the most unusual things about this airframe is that the first curator of the museum flew it in the Vietnam War. Lt Col (Ret.) Darwin Edwards flew the museum’s UH-1P on combat missions while it was assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron.  Edwards passed in 2004 while still curator at the museum, but his legacy lives on through the UH-1P that he was instrumental in bringing to the museum.

Darwin Edwards (kneeling) with captured North Vietnamese flag in Southeast Asia, 1968. Photo from "Green Hornets: The History of the U.S. Air Force 20th Special Operations Squadron" by Wayne Mutza. (Schiffer Military History, Atglen, PA) 2007, page 34.

There was a Huey at a recent air show I attended, offering rides to anyone willing to part with a few ten-dollar bills and sign a waiver. It was a great experience to be able to see the Huey in low flight over green trees, with its trademark rotor thump. The scene brought to mind grainy footage of the Vietnam War and was further intensified when a B-52 did a few fly-bys. It was a humbling experience to be able to watch those two old warbirds in the air at the same time, made even more so by the thought of how different my experience with them in that moment was from many veterans experiences with them. With that in mind, next time you see a veteran make sure to shake their hand and give them a quick thank you. Until next time, keep your eyes on the skies!