Considering the size of the USAF, as an amazing coincidence, almost simultaneously, just as we posted her story, the Air Force Academy‘s prestigious Quarterly Magazine for its Alumni Organization, CHECKPOINTS, also printed a parallel feature story about “First” Valentin.
Here, below, is the cover of that issue: (We found out about this coincidence from Col. Alan Fisher, an AF Academy graduate and regular reader of CHECKPOINTS, who excitedly informed your webmaster, that “FIRST” had also just been featured in a distinguished graduate story the same month she was awarded the top LEADER award in her graduating Fighter Class at Holloman. When the Academy CHECKPOINTS staff wrote the article, they didn’t know anything about Captain Valentin’sLeadership award ceremony – nor did we know about their story.
Cover of September 2022 CHECKPOINTS – photo of Cadet 3rd Class Lydia Cella in Combat Survival Training Program
Through the good efforts of two Air Force Academy fellow graduates and long-time FASF members, Alan Fisher and Wes Baker, we were led to the magazine’s Managing Editor, Jeff Holmquist, who gave us the OK to reprint their “First” story. Without further ado, here it is:
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First, many thanks to long-time FASF member and long-time President of the EAA’s well-known chapter in Las Cruces, NM, Wes Baker, for the idea to post this story!
Some of you who, like your Webmaster, grew up during WWII, believed we had a super weapon in the highly touted Norden Bombsight. We heard about it regularly in the mainstream press, and even heard glowing reports of its “pin-point” accuracy all through the war – right up to and including the two nuclear bombings in Japan of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
However, it seems we were propagandized, because things were not, in reality, quite the way they were described to us. Also, thanks to Maxwell Air Force Base, we have the following story. Here, with the text, you will see some photos of the device.
The enigma of the Norden Bombsight
By Christopher Kratzer
Air University Public Affairs
MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. — The chief of staff reading list has been updated this year to provide Airmen a guide to further their education and expertise. This year the list includes several TED talks, including “The Strange Tale of the Norden Bombsight,” by Malcolm Gladwell, a Canadian journalist, author, and speaker.
The Norden Bombsight is on display at Air War College and Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall.
Photo of the famed NORDEN BOMBSIGHT of WWII – Photo supplied by Wes Baker
The bombsight, developed by Carl Norden, a Swiss engineer, was used by the U.S. Navy and Army Air Forces beginning in World War II until its retirement during the Vietnam War.
Norden believed the device would lower the suffering and death toll from the war by allowing pinpoint accuracy during bombing runs.”The device had an incredible moral importance to Norden because he was a committed Christian,” Gladwellsaid. “What did the Norden Bombsight do? It allowed you to bomb only those things which you absolutely needed and wanted to bomb.”The Norden, essentially an analog calculator, could adjust for air density, wind drift, the bomber’s airspeed, and groundspeed while controlling the bombers’ final run on the target.It was called “the single most complicated mechanical device ever manufactured,” according to Stephan Wilkinson in his book, “Man and Machine.”Despite being highly sophisticated, the bombsight was not as accurate as reported. Even though Army Air Forces information officers claimed the bombsight could “drop a bomb into a pickle barrel from 30,000 feet,” reality told a different story, according to Avers Don Sherman, a writer who studied the Norden saga.”The Norden had only a 20-power telescope, so you couldn’t even see a pickle barrel from 30,000 feet, much less hit it. You could make out a factory, but that was about it,” Sherman said. “It was also very easy to defeat the Norden when it was used at high altitudes. Smoke screens worked just fine, ground fog was a barrier and the simple fact was that the year of the most disastrous B-17 raids, 1943, saw an unusual amount of bad weather over Europe.”One of the most famous failings of the Norden Bombsight came in 1944 when the Allies bombed a chemical plant in Leuna, Germany.“This chemical plant comprised 757 acres. Over the course of 22 bombing missions, the Allies dropped 85,000 bombs on the 757-acre chemical plant using the Norden Bombsight. What percentage of the bombs do you think landed in the perimeter of this 757-acre plant?
Ten percent, and of those 10 percent that landed 60 percent didn’t even go off. They were duds,” Gladwellsaid. “The Leuna chemical plant, after one of the most extensive bombings in the history of the war, was up and running within weeks.”The bombsight was heavily guarded and shrouded in secrecy to keep the technology out of the hands of Germany. Bombardiers were required to take an oath saying they would protect the bombsight with their lives if necessary, and the device was loaded with thermite, melting the device into a lump of metal. All these measures proved unnecessary since Germany became aware of the bombsight in 1938, according to Gladwell.“Carl Norden, as a proper Swiss man, was enamored by German engineers. In the 1930’s he hired a bunch of them, including a man named Herman Long, who in 1938 gave a complete set of the plans for the Norden Bombsight to the Nazis,” Gladwell said. “They had their own Norden Bombsight throughout the entire war, which also, by the way, didn’t work very well.“Gladwelluses the story of the bombsight to show how technology doesn’t solve all our problems and often ultimately gives us unforeseen consequences.
“I have not described to you a success story,” Gladwellsaid. “I’ve described to you the opposite of a success story. This is the problem of our infatuation with the things we make. We think that the things we make can solve our problems, but our problems are much more complex than that. The issue isn’t the accuracy of the bombs you have, it’s how you use the bombs you have and more importantly, whether you ought to use bombs at all.”
Norden Bombsight in the nose of a B-17 Flying Fortress
This proved to be true for Norden and his bombsight. On August 6, 1945, a B-29 bomber called the Enola Gay used a Norden Bombsight to drop an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan.
Diagram and Explanation of Bombsight’s Components
“The bomb missed its target by 800 feet, but of course, it didn’t matter, and that’s the greatest irony of all,”Gladwellsaid. “The air force’s $1.5 billion bombsight was used to drop its $3 billion bomb, which didn’t need a bombsight at all. No one told Carl Nordenthat his bombsight had been used over Hiroshima. He was a committed Christian. He thought he had designed something that would reduce the toll and suffering in war. It would have broken his heart.”
COMMENT BY YOUR WEBMASTER:
Although not cited much, if at all, when doing searches using several of the most popular search engines, there is little to no mention of the famous American Engineer and Inventor, Nathan Pritikin, who made some vital engineering contributions to the production of the Norden Bombsight during WWII. He is more well known as a millionaire eccentric and pioneer in the use of natural foods to cure diseases, one who became a largely self-taught and highly respected nutritionist after WWII.
Please let us know if you have any particular knowledge or experience with the Norden Bombsight.
President Wes Bakerof the 555 Chapter of the EAA, at Las Cruces International Airport, arrives in his Vintage Cessna 140 for the meeting.
This past weekend, the RGAC (Rio Grande Aviation Council) held its Fall quarterly meeting at the WEAM (War Eagles Air Museum) at the Doña Ana County International Jetport in Santa Teresa, New Mexico.
In the words of one of the RGAC’s original two founders, Bob Dockendorf, “This newly formed organization is designed and purposed to improve and enhance communication between the many diverse groups that are involved in the regional aviation community.”
Thirteen (13) representatives of the some twenty odd member aviation industry concerned organizations attended. The two group photos below show those representatives who were able to attend this past Saturday.
All this post’s photos can be seen in hi-resolution and full size by simply clicking on them!
The RGAC’s governing member organizations include the following:
Amigo Air Sho
Cielo Dorado HO Association
Civil Air Patrol – Squadron 215 – El Paso
Civil Air Patrol – Squadron 24 – Las Cruces
Dust Devil Flying Club
EAA Chapter 1570 – Santa Teresa, NM
EAA Chapter 555 – Las Cruces, NM
El Paso Aviation Association
El Paso Remote Control Association
First Aero Squadron Foundation
Horizon City Remote Control Flyers
Las Cruces Aviators Flying Club
Mesilla Valley Model Airplane Club
Ninety-Nines – El Paso Chapter
Order of Daedalians – Flight 24 – El Paso
USAF Academy Association
USAF JROTC, Las Cruces HS, NM
USAF ROTC Det. 505, UTEP
USAF ROTC Detachment 505 NMSU
War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM)
L to R seated: Tania Privette, and WEAM Director and one of the RCAC founders, Bob Dockendorf, and EAA’s John Signorino work on meeting’s details.
Other profit-oriented or governmental organizations involved in local area aviation such as the Airfield Managers of KDNA (Dona Ana Jetport); LRU (Las Cruces International Airport); El Paso International Airport; Fabens Airport (Texas); The Commanders of Army Aviation’s Biggs Field and Holloman Air Force Base; Director of the UTEP Aero Apace Department; Managers of the Tenants at the New Mexico International Space Port and the Director of NMSU’s Physical Sciences Lab, along with the Elephant Butte Irrigation District . . . are engaged as members of the non-voting class of associate membership in the Council.
The actual governing of the Council is primarily determined by the non-profit educational aviation consumer oriented groups active in the region.
L to R front row: John Signoriino, Tania Privette,Ric Lambart– Back Row: Tracy Short, Aurora Navarro, Daniel Barcena, Mike LeGendre, Col. Mario Campos, Wes Baker, Eric Gensheimer, Todd Pasont, Bob Dockendorf, and Juan Brito.
Below, the group of representatives also gathered by the “Women in Aviation“ Display inside the WEAM main hangar (see below photo).
L to R: Ric Lambart, Aurora Navarro, Daniel Barcena, Tracy Short, Tania Privette, Mike LeGendre, John Signorino, Col. Mario Campos, Eric Gensheimer, Todd Pasont, Juan Brito, Wes Baker, and Bob Dockendorf – we don’t know the helmeted manikin’s name.
Organizational Meeting Title on Display Screens at WEAM
The brainchild of two local aviation leaders, Bob Dockendorfand John Keithly,The Rio Grande Aviation Council (RGAC) was put into motion this past weekend at the executive office meeting room of the War Eagles Air Museum (WEAM) at the Doña Ana County International Jetport.
Incidentally, the above photo is of the actual large LED Display screens that were mounted in the War Eagles’ meeting room, but the Rio Grande part was inadvertantly misspelled, leaving the “e” off at the end of Grande.
The two organizers recognized that there was no central or nexus organization through which the area’s many public-interest aviation groups and organizations might express both their legitimate public interests in their common industry, or to work more efficently to help collectively protect those same interests. In short, the new council would provide a more unified voice for the West Texas and SW New Mexico areas in respect to aviation related issues and interests.
Accordingly, Bob invited the area’s numerous public-interest and non-profit aviation groups to meet together at the WEAM. At least one or more representatives of each of the local (within a 100 mile radius of El Paso, Texas and Santa Teresa, NM) aviation groups appeared on Saturday, the 6th of April, to help organize this new organization.
Boband John recommended that the new organization be somewhat amporphous in nature and purposely not be formally structured, rather that it operate without any specific permanent officers or heirarchy. Its main functions would be to provide a sounding board, brain-storming platform, and a clearing house for the member organizations’ interests. It would, additionally, help provide a unified collective voice for the members’ common aviation interests.
The representatives of each group discussed their particular assets and current principal needs and goals.
Several other aviation groups were invited, but couldn’t make this intial organizational meeting, but will hopefully participate in future conferences. Such future gatherings will be held at the WEAM on a quarterly basis.
The following photos show some of those who attended as representatives of their respective aviation groups:
(Any of the below photos may be seen in full high-resolution by simply clicking on them)
Mrs. Mary Dockendorf registers John Adams of the EL Paso Composite Squadron 215 of the CAP.
President Wes Baker of the Las Cruces EAA Chapter 555 parks his Cessna 140 on the ramp in front of the WEAM.
L to R: Col. Mario Campos (Daedalian Society), Juan Brito (EPAA), Fritz Gatlin (EPRC Club), and Tom Holmsley(AMA)
L to R: Todd Parsont (Franklin HS JAFROTC), Ana Donahue (Drone Pilot for the Elephant ButteIrrigation District-EBID), Squadron Commander, Travis McKenzie and Col. Alan Fisher(CAP Squadron 24) line up to sign in for the meeting.
L to R: Ana Donahue (EBID), Todd Parsont (JAFROTC), Presidents Wes Baker (EAA 555) and John Keithly (EAA 1570), Col. Mario Campos (hidden behind) Juan Brito (EPAA).
L to R starting with those sitting with backs to the windows: Travis McKenzie and Mike LeGendre (CAP), Rick King(Santa Teresa Flying Club), Col. Alan Fisher(CAP), Malcolm White (USAFA), John Adams (CAP), Ana Donahue ((EBID), Todd Parsont (JAFROTC), Wes Baker and John Keithly (EAA Presidents), Col. Mario Campos(Daedalians), Juan Brito(EPAA), Fritz Gatlin (EPRC), Tom Holmsley(AMA), (three people with their backs to camera, and L to R) Elliott Werner (EAA), Bob Dockendorf(WEAM) and Didi Shaffer(Chair of the El Paso Chapter of the 99’s).
R to L clockwise: Rick King (Sta. Teresa Flying Club), Col. Alan Fisher (CAP), Malcolm White (USAFA), John Adams(CAP), Ana Donahue (EBID), Todd Parsont (JAFROTC), Wes Bakerand John Keithly(EAA), Mike McGee (UTEP), Col. Mario Campos(Daedalians), Mary Dockendorf (WEAM), Juan Brito (EPAA), and Fritz Gatlin (EPRC).
L to R: Ana Donahue (EBID), Todd Parsont (RAFROTC) and Wes Baker(EAA)
L to R:Todd Parsont(JAFROTC), Wes Bakerand John Keithly(EAA).
L to R clockwise: Ana Donahue (EBID), Todd Parsont (JAFROTC), Wes Baker (EAA), John Keithly(EAA), Mike McGee(UTEP), Col. Mario Campos (Daedalians), Juan Brito (EPAA), Fritz Gatlin (EPRC).
Clockwise R to L: (only part of his back to camera) Mike McGee (UTEP), Mario Campos(Daedalians), Juan Brito(EPAA), Fritz Gatlin(EPRC), Tom Holmsley (AMA), Tania Privette (LCA), Andy Hume(Las Cruces Int’l. Airport), Didi Shaffer (99’s), Bob Dockendorf (WEAM), Elliott Werner (EAA), Javier Caraveo (USAFA & AFROTC), Travis McKenzie and Mike LeGendre (CAP), and Rick King (Santa Teresa Flying Club).
L to R: John Keithly (EAA 1570), Dr. Mike McGee (UTEP), Col. Mario Campos (Daedalians), and Juan Brito(EPAA).
L to R: Andy Hume (Las Cruces Int’l. Airport), Tania Privette (LCA), and Didi Shaffer (99’s).
Didi Schaffer(Chair of El Paso Chapter of the Ninety-Nines).
Meeting Chairman, Bob Dockendorf, principal organizer of the Rio Grand Aviation Council
RGAC Organizational Meeting Representatives – L to R: John Keithly, Ric Lambart, Travis McKenzie, Mario Campos, AlanFisher, Mike LeGendre, Mike McGee, Rick King, Elliott Werner, Tania Privette, Andy Hume, Didi Shaffer, Ammber Valverde, Ana Donahue, Javier Cavaveo, Juan Brito, Wes Baker, Todd Parsont, Tom Holmsley, Fritz Gatlin, John Adams, Malcolm White, and Bob Dockendorf.
This past weekend, once again, EAA Chapter 1570, at the Dona Ana County International Jetport, produced its 5th successful Young Eagles event, an activity in which the Chapter members (most of them are also FASF members) gave free introductory airplane rides to children between the ages of 8 and 17. All aircraft used belong to the chapter’s members. The project’s Chairperson, once again, was Rotary and Fixed Wing Flight Instructor, Deb Rothchild. Here, below, are some photos to show the popular youth education program in action.
Remember: If you’d like to view any of the below photos in full high resolution, simply click on them. Then, if you’d like, please feel free to download or copy them for you own use.
Above, Melissa Keithly, wife of the chapter’s President,John Keithly, and one of event’s principal organizers, with back to camera, greets, and begins to sign up first arrival parents and their children who want to get their Young Eagles Flight . . .
Helicopter pilot,Priscilla Porras, (pointing to her left) gives instructions to those signing up for their first flights . . .
A group of the volunteer pilots for the day talk over the coming flights – L to R: John Keithly (Chapter President), Mike Robinson, Jim Foster, Danny Carter, and Bryce Daniels.
Chairperson of the entire event, Professional Flight Instructor, Deb Rothchild, explains to the crowd the procedures and safety precautions . . .
War Eagles Air Museum’s (WEAM) Executive Director, Bob Dockendorf, looks on as project gets underway. Bobhas been an active leader in the EAA Chapter 1570 since its earliest days and the Museum he directs is an integreal part of the Chapter’s success.
Chapter President, John Keithly greets his next Young Eagle for her flight.
Pilot John Signorino, El Paso business entreprenuer and Chapter Vice President, walks his Young Eagle to her first airplane flight in a Cessna Skylane.
Chapter Pilot, Dave Daniels, escorts his Young Eagle out to his plane, a vintage Piper Super Cub . . .
Pilot John Signorino, a former Army Air Services Pilot, helps his Young Eagle get belted in for her first adventure aloft.
Pilot Bryce Daniels, helps his Young Eagle adjust his seatbelt in readiness for his first flight. The plane is a Van’s RV 8 Experimental ship.
This Young Eagle gets his orientation before his flight from EAA Chapter 555 President, Wes Baker. His plane is a Classic 1948 Cessna 140, fully restored and in excellent ‘like-new’ condition. All General Aviation aircraft, regardless of age, must be fully inspected each year to assure that they fully meet established Federal Standards for their airworthiness.
Chapter President, John Keithly, describes their pending flight to his Young Eagle in his Chzech built “Dynamic” composite airplane. John and his wife, Melissa, just recently helped build their own new Van’s RV aircraft.
CEO and President of Red Arrow Flight Academyat the Dona Ana County Jetport, Tomas Peralta (R), explains how he has filled out his Young Eagle’s new Flight Log Book, while the young man’s father signs the Young Eagle Flight Certificate.
Chapter Pilot, Dave Daniels, completes his Young Eagle’s Flight Log Book as her father looks on.
Chapter Pilot, Danny Carter, poses with his Young Eagle and his Mother, before they take off in his Piper Commanche aircraft.
Pilot John Signorinoand his Young Eagle pose before their flight in front of the Cessna 182 Skylane.
Pilot Dave Daniels, whose son, Brycewas also piloting the children in another aircraft, has just explained to this Young Eagle what they will do during her first flight in this vintage Piper PA-18 Super Cub.
Pilot Danny Carter, announces his departure over the radio, and taxis out from the loading area with his Young Eagle, as she happily waves to the Chapter photographer.
Pilot, Mike Robinson (R), in front of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk airplane in which he just flew this Young Eagle and his father.
Pilot Wes Bakerexplains how to properly fasten the seat belt and shoulder harness to this Young Eagle before they depart.
L to R: Pilot Tomas Peralta, with his Young Eagle and young man’s father, after completing their flight in this Red Arrow Flght Academy Cessna 182 Skylane.
Dave Daniels walks back from his flight with this excited young lady, who has just completed her first Young Eagles airborne experience.
John Keithly fills out this happy young lady’s Young Eagle Flight Log Book, after her first experience aloft.
A view of a somewhat inpatient group of Young Eagles awaiting their call-ups for their first flights.
L to R: Airline Pilot and author of the new aviation novel, “Quantum,” Roxanne Lambie, poses by her book-signing table inside the WEAM Shop, with Ammber Valverde, AFROTC student at New Mexico State University, and DaedalianFlight Scholarship winner, who plans to become an Air Force Pilot.
Another photo of Pilot, Danny Carter, taxiing out for takeoff with two Young Eagles aboard his Piper Commanche.
Pilot, Dave Daniels, fills out the Young Eagle Flight Certificate after completing a flight with this young man.
View through the Cessna 172 Skyhawk’s windshield of Pilot Mike Robinson and both his Young Eagle, in the Co-Pilot seat, and young fellow’s father in the rear.
Dave Daniels poses with his next Young Eagle, who is adjusting his headset, as instructed by his host.
Pilot John Keithly and his grinning co-pilot Young Eagle, as they ready to start the engine in this Czech Dynamic.
John Keithly fills out this same Young Eagle’s Flight Certificate.
Pilot, Wes Baker, President of the Las Cruces, NM EAA Chapter 555, completes this happy Young Eagle’s Flight Log Book.
L to R: Roxanne Lambie, and Ammber Valverde, who has an autographed copy of Roxanne’s new novel under her arm, busily chatting with EAA members outside the War Eagles Air Museum main entrance.
L to R: Melissa Keithly, a Young Eagle’s father, Prescilla Porras., and Wes Baker at Registration Sign-In table.
L to R above: Melissa Keithly, Young Eagle with his father and Priscilla Porras, helicopter pilot, discussing the event.
John Keithlywith another Young Eagle seated and ready to go, as young man’s father and brother watch.
Pilot John Keithly gets ready to take this same intrigued Young Eagle aloft for his initiation flight in John’s Czech Dynamic Experimental Aircraft.
Mike Robinsongets ready to close the Cessna Skyhawk’s door in readiness for this young lady’s first Young Eagle Flight experience.
John Signorinoexplaining how the elevator and rudder controls work on this Cessna Skylane as his next Young Eagle and his mother take it all in . . .
During a short break, (L to R) Volunteer chapter Pilots, John Signorino and Tomas Peraltatalk over the ongoing Young Eagle event.
During the Young Eagle rally, many of the Young Eagles, their parents and visitors flocked in to view the great collection of airplanes, antique autos and motorcycles, and to also to buy souvenirs at the WEAM Gift Shop. Making change at the cash register is Kathryn Guerra, whose father, George, the Museum’s Operations Manager, is standing behind her in the light blue shirt.
Pilot Wes Bakerlistening to his Young Eagle trying to see if he properly understood Wes’ explanation of how an airplane climbs.
Piloting the helicopter back onto the tarmac, is Chapter Volunteer worker and chopper pilot, Priscilla Porras. The same model helicopter, owned by Chapter member Mike McNamee, gave some 17 Young Eagles their first helicopter ride during the project.
After an exciting first ride with both the Young Eagle, who’s also a Cub Scout, and his mother, Pilot John Signorinoposes alongside the Cessna 182 Skylane with the happy pair.
After completing a flight, Pilot Tomas Peraltagets ready to make out a Young Eagle Flight Certificate for this young man and his mother.
EAA Chapter 555 President, Wes Baker, an Air Force Academy graduate, gets ready to take this Young Eagle into the sky in his vintage Cessna 140.
After the successful flight, Wes completes this Young Eagle’s paperwork, as Wes’ wife, Carol,looks on.
Volunteer Pilot, John Signorino, walks out to the McNamee Cessna 182 Skylane with his next Young Eagle, whose mother also took the flight.
During another much-deserved break from the busy flight schedule, Pilot Mike Robinson (L) sits down to chat with fellow volunteer pilot, Wes Baker, on the Right.
Almost the end of the busy day of over 60 flights, the volunteer pilots were caught discussing the event. L to R: Dominic Austen (Pilot who conducted the Preflight Program),Tomas Peralta, John Signorino, Deb Rothchild, and Bryce Daniels.