The Great Lakes Museum will publicly unveil a new exhibit, “World War
One-The Birth of Military Aviation‚” in the lobby on Saturday, March 31 at
10 a.m. The exhibit includes images, artifacts and sounds of WWI. A live
WEFM broadcast of “Fun in Michiana”‚ will be in the Museum’s library.
Many of the photographs featured in the exhibit are from the Kenneth Holden
WWI collection which was donated by former Michigan City resident Fred
Burnham, Holden’s nephew.
August 1, 1907 the fledgling US Air Force had its start. Established as an
Aeronautical Division of the US Army Signal Corps, the goal was to study the
new “Flying Machines” as a military tool. With one officer, two enlisted
men, and no aircraft the study began. On Aug. 28, 1908 at Fort Meyer, Va.,
the first Army Aircraft was delivered by the Wright Brothers for the price
Kenneth Holden, a native of Three Oaks, Michigan, was an aviator in WWI-part
of a very small group of men. Prior to the War, airplanes were in use for
reconnaissance, artillery spotters, bombers, and message delivery. By 1914,
the airplane was being used primarily as a fighter against the enemy. When
the US entered the War in 1917, the Army Air Corp had 55 obsolete aircraft
and only 35 pilots.
Despite the lack of experience, and the use of allied aircraft during the
war, US pilots downed 491 enemy planes, and produced several “Aces” like
Eddie Rickenbocker, and Frederick Gillet. The US had 43 squadrons at the
front by the end of the War. (A squadron is 12-24 aircraft depending on the
type.) Through the display of the Holden photos, taken with a Brownie
camera, and memorabilia donated to the Museum, the exhibit will highlight
the beginnings of airpower in military history.
For more information, please call the Museum at 872-2702, toll-free at (800)
726-5912 or Ann Welch, Chair of the Education Committee at 879-5008.