Tag Archives: Pilots

Second Piece of the Puzzle

How will digital media and/or digital tools be important to teaching my target audience one of the essential lessons I’ll be focusing on in my project?

My project will aim at teaching high school students about American history during WWII in connection to local history. While the knowledge of historical events and places are important to the lesson, students will mostly rely on primary sources and first person accounts to piece the puzzle of this time period together from the local front. Digital media will play a role in watching interviews,  documentaries, reading diaries of WWII pilots, and analyzing images using the following websites:

  • The WWII Combat Diary of Lt. Kermit D. Wooldridge – https://sites.google.com/site/ww2pilotsdiary/
  • The WASPs: Women Pilots of WWII – http://www.radiodiaries.org/the-wasps-women-pilots-of-wwii/
  • Diary of Bruce Johnston – http://lancasterdiary.net/
  • World War II First Person Accounts, Letters Home, Diaries, & Journals – http://www.teacheroz.com/WWII_Oral_History.htm
  • What did it take to be a fighter pilot? – http://www.talkingproud.us/Retired/Retired/WWIIfighterpilot_files/becoming-a-wwii-fighter-pilot.pdf
  • Aviation Cadet Training Program – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation_Cadet_Training_Program_(USAAF)
  • Pilot’s Log at Mesa del Rey – http://acsleonard.org/pilotslog/
  • Life Magazine Covers:
    • https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/160516-female-wwii-pilots-life-magazine.jpg?w=560

What, specifically, about the digital environment will influence what you do and why?

The digital environment will provide the literature, images, and overall the resources for the lesson. Students will be “mining” sites and browsing for material to compare, to ask questions, and to be better informed about the the journey of pilots. Then they will create their own site about one of the pilots who were trained at Mesa del Rey similar to the Bruce Johnston Diary website. Since they will be inventing a life for a person after training, it will be crucial that they understand what it took to become a pilot, to serve during the war, and to make the sacrifices.


Project Update -1

The past week I have worked on getting ready to interview a ninety-five-year-old WWII pilot who was an instructor at Mesa del Rey Flight School in King City during the war. Thus, I have been reading through all the material given to me by various people.  Copies of the History of Mesa del Rey have been given to me by people at the King City Airport from their collection, I received one from a private collection of a local couple, and one from Rava Ranches (currently occupying the old school grounds), however they were all low quality copies and difficult to read. After some additional reading of other articles and notes typed on a typewriter, I have discovered who wrote this history article and where I can find an official copy of it. Ultimately, this article, which was originally published in the local newspaper around 1943, helped me understand more about the construction and start of the flight school, so I could develop more meaningful questions for the interview. It also contained the names of many  officers and instructors, which could provide clues and inspire stories during the interview.

Along with the reading, I was also continuing to digitize the King’s Logs and through working with the content of the logs, I am beginning to see the plan of the website expand in new directions. I am also beginning to realize that I could use an assistant because I am uploading more and more items on the website (currently at 42), putting them in collections or exhibits, but neglecting to complete the metadata for them. So I am having to go back to tediously complete that too. In some cases I am still searching for names, places, or origins of the documents. I have also found out that the first two years there were no logs that document the lives of cadets, officers, and instructors at the school. In the meantime, I reconsidered the name of the site and added the specific name of the school to the original, “Pilot’s Log” title. I though it was too general and in order to attract the target audience, having the name of the place as part of the website’s title could make a difference.

As far as the class activities and readings, I jumped to Module 7, which gives background on oral history projects, OHMS, and in general the importance and application of it. I have found the OHMS interview annotating activity particularly useful, even before I did any practice of my own. Just to be able to listen to examples of collecting oral history helped me formulate my questions and most of all helped me understand the importance of letting the person tell his or her story, whichever story they prefer and the way they want to tell it, even if it does not answer the question I asked or leads into a completely new topic. I watched the interview with Steve Zahn and the skillful way Doug Boyd navigated it. I also peaked at the Irish American oral history because it features an older person and I wondered how else I might need to approach my pilot, Red Rider, who is nearly a hundred years old. The interview was a success, although unnerving since I’ve never attempted anything like this before and I felt that everyone (there were 10 people present during the interview)  looked to me as a professional in this field.

It seems to me at this point that I have an overabundance of material and need to focus my attention on the building of the site. I am still operating with the three basic plugins and need to download more. Also starting to think about maps, which will be another technical challenge. However, before all that, my goal is to have all items digitized, uploaded, and described.

Pilot’s Log – Project Proposal

Pilot’s Log is a website created to preserve the little known history of the flight school operated at Mesa Del Rey Airport in King City, California during WWII (1940-45).  Within the history of the place, the website will predominantly focus on bringing to light the cadets who were at Mesa Del Rey and left for the war after a brief ten-week training. The airport still operates as a small civil airport, however it offers only a binder containing a news article about its history, letters from one pilot’s collection, and a few photographs. A Wikipedia page offers a brief information about the airport. The local Museum features an Aviation Exhibit (currently closed), has a few copies of the King’s Log, the “class” books from the flight school, a silent film depicting cadets arriving on a train to King City, and an interview conducted with one of the pilots, Red Rider. Currently, there is no website that allows audiences to access or share information about this part of American history when young men from around the country were summoned to King City, trained to fly Fairchild PT-19s and PT-17 Stearmans, and left for the war. Other than a few local history enthusiast and local family members of the cadets, the history of the pilots and the flight school is buried in attics, in boxes and in the memories of people around the United States.

Pilot’s Log Digital Project Goals:

  1. To inform its audience about an important part of King City’s history and its contribution to the World War II efforts.
  2. To recognize the thousands of men who trained at Mesa Del Rey and later fought in the war by compiling a composite of who these cadets were, how their lives were at the flight school and how it changed as they played an important role in the history of the United States.
  3. To engage audiences interested in local history, WWII history, history of pilot training, or to find out about fellow pilots or connect families in this common history.
  4. To open up the conversation about this time in history and invite the audience to contribute their own stories and artifacts in the hopes of recovering the history of the Mesa Del Ray Flight School and its cadets.
  5. To further engage audiences and encourage critical thinking, the project poses the following historical questions:
  • Who were these men/cadets/pilots and where did they come from?
  • What do the activities, the training, and statistics about pilot output tell us about the success of the school?
  • Where were the trained pilots assigned for duty?
  • What happened to those who did not make it as pilots?
  • What can we learn from the experiences of these cadets about war, relocation, family matters, and camaraderie?
  • How does the history of Mesa Del Rey flight school inform local history?
  • How does King City and the Mesa Del Rey Army Air Force flight school fit into military history of the U.S.?
  • How frequently or to what extent was the flight school chronicled in the local paper?

The digital exhibit will be created in Omeka using digitized pages from the King’s Logs, photos, interviews, and a film courtesy of the Monterey County Agricultural and Rural Life Museum. The site will have item profiles, exhibitions, and pages about the men. One exhibit will consist of articles documenting the flight school.  The other exhibit will include the available yearbook information (1943-44): list of cadets in each division with the addition of pictures. A collection will display the art (cartoon drawings) and humor depicted in the logs reflecting on the experiences at school. Finally, I plan to map the places around the country where the cadets came from and mark the location of the school. Plugins, such as Video Stream, Exhibit Builder, COinS, Simple Pages, Neatline, and Geolocation will be implemented.

Target audiences will include people interested in King City’s local history, aviation, WWII history, pilots who attended the Mesa Del Rey flight school and their families, current and former pilots, pilot training, and anyone fascinated by common people making history.

Revised Personas

Persona 1

Name: Carol Willburg
Demographic: white, early 60s, college educated, upper-middle class
Descriptive Title: Former City Council Member, who, with her husband, owns and runs a Glass Shop in town and is considered the local historian.
Quote: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.
A Day in a Life Narrative:
She begins the day by walking her dog and then walking around the corner to the Glass Shop to open up at 8 A.M. and greet the first customers. As a city council member, she used to be involved in the inter-workings of the city’s policies. Once a month she would run the show and call the shots at meetings, which she still sits in to keep tab on all the happenings in town. Currently, she enjoys spending her time exploring the county’s libraries searching for books on the history of her town. This activity keeps her occupied and expands not only her knowledge of local history, but also her private collection of historical memorabilia. With her husband’s help and expertise the old photographs and documents become digitized, preserved, and displayed in their private collection. After making her rounds at the libraries, she also enjoys going to Soul Treasures, an antique shop, in search of more artifacts to add to her research. This also the setting for casual local gathering, which she often attends. In addition, she volunteers as a member of the local high school board. This fulfills her desire to stay involved with the community projects and provides a platform for her interest in spreading local history.
End Goals:
Through her extensive research, she wants to preserve the city’s rich history. To help streamline the efficiency of the archiving process, she hopes to improve her computer skills. To keep up her journalism background and her work at the local newspaper, she preserves pieces of the city’s history by writing short narratives for the collection of old and new photographs to be included in her upcoming book.

Persona 2

Name: Todd Sullivan
Demographic: white, male, early 90s, middle class
Descriptive Title: Retired Air Force pilot
Quote: Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.
A Day in a Life Narrative:

In his days as a pilot, he flew dangerous missions in many foreign lands. When first given the option to be relieved from active duty at the end of WWII, he instead applied to become a flight instructor to teach the next generation of pilots. He used his skills from the Air Force to train the future crop dusters of the valley. These days, he meets for breakfast at Denny’s with his old military buddies. Even in retirement, he checks on the crop dusting business, stays involved by advising novice pilots, and appears at events commemorating past achievements of local heroes. The occasional invitation to fly as the guest of one of the pilots at the local airport gives him great pleasure and a rare opportunity to reminiscing of the old days and sneak in a few rounds flying a plane.

End Goals:

He offers his stories to anyone who is a willing listener. However, the bulk of his free time is dedicated to learning about new technology developed for aviation, especially in the line of crop dusting planes. Ultimately, he wants to preserve the memory of the thousands of pilots who served the local community and the country. As he has gotten older, he strives to maintain an active lifestyle thus he stays involved in the community, goes to city functions, and meets with family members of his old buddies from the flight school.