A few weeks back I updated you on the “Eagles in the Storm” exhibit that was being student curated here at the Museum of Aviation. I am happy to report that on Monday the 16thof May the exhibit was officially unveiled with a small opening ceremony. To bring everyone up to speed: the exhibit was researched, developed and installed by Northside High School Seniors Chris Matthews and Justin Yun. The two seniors completed the project, with support from our Museum of Aviation collections staff, while fulfilling their humanities program’s Professional Interest Exploration requirement. I had the privilege of working with Chris and Justin for approximately one and a half hours a day at the museum, two days a week between January 31st and April 26th, 2011 – a total of 39 hours. Justin and Chris’s humanities classmates, their teacher and Gifted Coordinator Kim Stewart, Houston County School’s Director of Gifted Education Jan Jacobsen, Museum of Aviation Director Ken Emery, F-15 maintenance instructor Brian Kalmer and Robins Air Force Base F-15 test pilots Major Dan Badia and Maj. Stephen D’Amico all attended the opening.
The two-case exhibit that these guys developed focuses on the air superiority role of the F-15C in Operation Desert Storm. In particular, they concentrated on the story of retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Thomas Dietz, who as a captain shot down two Iraqi MiG-21 Fishbed fighters and one Su-22 Fitter while flying the F-15C in Desert Storm in 1991. Under the supervision of the Museum collections staff, the students contacted Dietz – who now lives in Virginia – and interviewed him over Skype. Dietz shot down the two MiG-21s while he was flying F-15C #79-078, which is currently located outside of the Museum of Aviation’s Fair Restoration Hangar. The aircraft is at the Museum for use by the 402nd Maintenance Wing at Robins Air Force Base as a training aircraft.
Chris and Justin used the flight helmet that Dietz wore during Desert Storm, a “blood-chit” he carried during the war, a picture of Dietz and his wingman Robert Hehemann taken during the conflict, an AIM-9B missile seeker head, F-15 fighter wing patches, and models of F-15C 79-078 and an Iraqi MiG-21 in the exhibit. The text panels they created for the exhibit explain the F-15C’s role in Desert Storm and give some details of Dietz’s participation in the conflict. As a museum staff we were very pleased with how this partnership with the Houston County Board of Education Gifted Program turned out, and look forward to continuing it in the future. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed working with Justin and Chris and eagerly look forward to working with the PIE program again in the future. The video below is from the opening ceremony, enjoy!