Seminar News

The League Board of Directors announces an Autumn seminar at the National World War I Museum in Kansas City. The seminar will run immediately after the Museum's symposium, Milestones and Cornerstones (which will be Fri., Oct. 27 through lunch Oct. 28), starting the afternoon of Saturday Oct. 28, and continuing all day Sunday the 29th.

Early registration (through Sept. 25) will be $215 for either the League or the NWWI Museum seminar, or $400 for both. The Museum has a block of rooms reserved at the Hampton Inn & Suites - Country Club Plaza, with special attendee rates of $169/night if reserved before Oct. 4. Registration and hotel information are available through the NWWI Museum's website (link opens in a new window).

Program Schedule

Our seminar kicks off on Saturday, October 28, 2023, at 1 pm. This follows the end of the museum’s symposium at 11:30 am and a break for lunch (a box lunch will be provided).

  • A dinner reception featuring a keynote by Christopher Warren will take place at 6:00 pm on October 28, on the museum’s Paul Sunderland “Glass” Bridge. The cost of the reception is included in your registration fee.
  • The seminar continues on Sunday, October 29, 2023, with a full day of sessions starting at 10:00 am.
  • Lunch will be served on October 29 as part of the program, with the cost covered in your registration fee.

The presenters are:

We look forward to hosting this exciting exploration of World War I Aviation History!

Schedule for the seminar includes multiple informative sessions, breaks, and networking opportunities.

Please note that the presenter schedule and the order of sessions are currently being finalized and will be updated closer to the seminar dates. The below schedule gives a general overview of the structure of the two-day event, with the specific sessions and times to be confirmed.

· 1:00 pm: Session 1 (1 hr, 5 min - Presentation + Q&A)
· 2:05 pm: Break (20 minutes)

· 2:25 pm: Session 2 (1 hr, 5 min - Presentation + Q&A)
· 3:30 pm: Break (20 minutes)

· 3:50 pm: Session 3 (1 hr, 5 min - Presentation + Q&A)
· 4:55 pm: League Works in Progress (30 min) (Moderated opportunity for all to share their current projects)

· 5:30 pm: Reception/Dinner on the Paul Sunderland “Glass” Bridge
· 6:00 pm: Keynote speaker (Christopher Warren) at dinner

· 10:00am: Session 5 (1 hr, 5 min - Presentation + Q&A)
· 11:05am: Break (15 minutes)

· 11:20am: Session 6 (1 hr, 5 min - Presentation + Q&A)
· 12:25pm: Lunch (1hr, 35min)

· 2:00pm: Session 7 (1 hr, 5 min - Presentation + Q&A)
· 3:05pm: Break (15 minutes)

· 3:20pm: Session 8 (1 hr, 5 min - Presentation + Q&A)
· 4:25pm: Closing Remark


Join us at the National WWI Museum on Sunday, October 29, for an exclusive space dedicated to the multifaceted interests of the League of WWI Aviation Historians. This specially allocated room will serve as a vibrant hub for:

  • Vendor and attendee member book sales: Explore an array of publications and rare finds.
  • Attendee member book swap: Exchange titles with fellow historians to enrich your personal collection.
  • Individual project highlights: Showcase your research, proposals, or works-in-progress to a discerning audience.
  • Model displaying area: Exhibit intricate models that capture the engineering and artistry of WWI aviation.
  • Overseas battle tour services information: Learn about immersive experiences to deepen your historical understanding.
  • Sale and Exhibition of WWI Artifacts: Display and acquire authentic pieces from the Great War era (please note that weapons are excluded).

We invite you to bring your books, research materials, historical photographs, ongoing projects, models, promotional materials, artifacts, and most importantly, your scholarly enthusiasm to this collaborative event. Don't miss this exceptional opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals at the League of WWI Aviation Historians Seminar

The Paul Sunderland "Glass" Bridge, site of the Saturday Dinner and Keynote, is between the Museum entrance and the exhibit areas and above a display of 9,000 poppies, each representing 1,000 war dead.

The National World War I Museum and Memorial Symposium. Milestones and Cornerstones, reflects a century of military commemoration of the Great War, starting with the founding of the American Battle Monuments Commission in 1923.


Synopsis: Allied Aviators as Guests of their German Counterparts

When Allied aviators came down alive in enemy territory, some were fortunate to have been entertained by their German counterparts before being sent off to prisoner-of-war camps. Greg VanWyngarden and Lance J. Bronnenkant have collected multiple stories and photographs of such events and will present some of the more noteworthy examples, including one where the captors and their “guests” exchanged home addresses in the hopes of a postwar reunion and another where they formed a small musical group that played each other’s national anthems.

Lance J. Bronnenkant - Bio

Lance J. Bronnenkant was an executive, entrepreneur, and inventor in the field of Women’s Health for 30 years before selling his business interests and retiring in 2010. Lance then returned to his long-time interest and focused on World War I aviation. In addition to numerous articles for various publications, he has authored over 23 books, including the 3-volume The Imperial German Eagles in World War I: Their Postcards and Pictures, the extensive biography titled Oswald Boelcke: The Red Baron’s Hero, and the ongoing series The Blue Max Airmen (currently at 19 volumes). He was the Managing Editor of the expert aviation journal, Over The Front, from 2014-2016 and has served on the Board of the League of World War I Aviation Historians since 2010. Lance has also amassed a considerable collection of World War I aviation memorabilia including original photographs, letters and documents, decorations, and uniforms.

Greg VanWyngarden – Bio

Greg VanWyngarden‘s fascination with WWI aviation goes back to his childhood. He joined the non-profit historical Cross & Cockade society when he was 17. He had his first published article in the society’s journal in 1980. Greg is a charter member of the League of WWI aviation Historians and had an article published in its first issue, and many since then. He was a speaker at the first League Seminar in 1988 and has given presentations at many others since then. Since 1990 he has been an issue editor for the League. Greg has authored twelve books on German aviators and air units for Osprey and has also written four titles for Albatros Productions. A lifelong resident of Iowa, Greg retired after 37 years as a public-school teacher and now devotes much of his time to writing, editing and photo collecting. He has also made presentations on the Iowa WWI airman and author James Norman Hall at the Iowa State Historical Museum and other Iowa sites.



Synopsis: Enhancing Aerial Reconnaissance Through the Lens of the Eastern Front

The narrative of World War I aviation is largely focused on the air superiority developed over the Western Front, influenced by a century of interpretation. However, assessing the role of aviation on the Eastern Front has been challenging due to the overarching sway of totalitarian regimes through to the end of the Cold War. Today's research is diving into archives in Germany, Vienna, and Moscow.

This presentation will highlight crucial instances where aviation reconnaissance played a significant role on the Eastern Front, beginning with the Tannenberg battle, followed by campaigns to repel the Russians from German territory. Down south, amidst intense battles between Austro-Hungarian and superior Russian forces, aviation proved decisive. Russia's strategic aerial reconnaissance, particularly Sikorsky's Il’ya Muromets, consistently provided valuable intelligence.

Aerial reconnaissance evolved as the war progressed, and its strategic application during the successful Brusilov Offensive of 1916 underscored its value. Yet, the subsequent inability to sustain the offensive laid bare the deficiencies in Russian logistics, extending to the viability of aviation resources. By 1917, amid the declining Russian Empire, aerial reconnaissance practices on the Eastern Front had become well-established.

Following Russia's exit from the war with the Brest-Litovsk armistice, German and Austro-Hungarian aviation shifted in its posture, while also strategically charting territories for potential future conflicts. Therefore, the advancement of aerial reconnaissance during World War I owes much to the experiences and lessons gleaned from the Eastern Front battles of 1914-1918.

Terrence Finnegan - Bio

Terrence (Terry) Finnegan is a retired USAF Colonel and senior Defense Department civilian with 50 years of service.   He served many missions, to include European Command, Pacific Command, Central Command during Desert Storm, NSA, and Space Command.  In his last years he provided joint training expertise to the US National Guard for the entire western United States.  His military intelligence expertise has been internationally praised for support to operations in all facets of warfare, to include Information Operations.  He has applied his depth of understanding military with two books, Shooting the Front (praised as the definitive work on aerial reconnaissance in World War I) and A Delicate Affair on the Western Front (cited as one of the most detailed and incisive works on World War I since the masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front). Terry is retired, living in New Hampshire and racing triathlons.



Synopsis: The Short Brothers: Pioneers of Aviation and their Remarkable Aircraft

The Short Brothers, Eustace, Oswald, and Horace are a significant yet under-celebrated part of aviation history. Most remember them for the Short Sunderland flying boat of WWII, an enduring testament to their legacy. However, their pioneering journey in establishing an aircraft manufacturing enterprise to serve the Royal Naval Air Service remains largely overlooked.

In this presentation, we delve deep into the lives and times of these three brothers who boldly ventured into the fledgling field of heavier-than-air marine aviation. We navigate through their groundbreaking journey from the years preceding WWI to the tumultuous 1920s, during which they resourcefully diversified their company into manufacturing bus carriages to withstand economic hardship.

This session offers not merely a historical account but also an intimate exploration of the men behind the legend. From pioneering the aviation industry to the brink of bankruptcy and yet surviving, the Short Brothers' journey serves as an inspirational tale of innovation and adaptability.

Our journey through the annals of aviation history provides a fresh perspective on these remarkable figures and their contributions. As we trace the legacy of the Short Brothers, we gain an understanding of the dawn of heavier-than-air marine aviation, a pivotal period that shaped the course of aviation history. This presentation seeks to shed light on this remarkable trio and their enduring impact on the aviation industry.

Colin Owers - Bio

Colin Anthony Owers, retired from Local Government Engineering in the rural expanses of NSW. Following his retirement, Colin fulfilled his long-held aspiration to reside in Canberra, ACT, where he has a deep-rooted connection stemming from his active participation in the restoration of the de Havilland D.H.9 and Pfalz D.XII aircraft at the Australian War Memorial.

In his post-retirement phase, Colin has enthusiastically embraced the role of a volunteer in the AWM's Military, History, Technology area, sharing his deep knowledge and experience.

An acclaimed author, Colin has seen several of his books on WWI aviation published by Aeronaut Books, thanks to Jack Herris. His titles include The Fighting America Flying Boats of WWI, Junkers Aircraft of WWI, and Patrolling the North Sea in WWI, which narrates the story of Sir Austin Robinson, RNAS. These works reflect Colin’s enduring fascination with marine aviation, a passion sparked in his childhood during visits to Rose Bay where he would watch the Catalina and Short flying boats in operation.

Colin's fascination extends beyond authoring books to contributing articles for various journals and magazines, reflecting on the technical history of aircraft. He, along with his wife Julie, has carried out extensive research in the UK and USA. Colin readily acknowledges Julie's unwavering support as instrumental to his ability to access and work from invaluable source materials. Traveling all the way from Australia we are privileged to have Colin share his wealth of knowledge and experience with us at this conference.



Synopsis:Panthéon de la Guerre: Reconfiguring a Panorama of the Great War

The Panthéon de la Guerre was a football-field-sized cyclorama featuring 5,000 full-length portraits of prominent French and allied figures from World War I. The most ambitious art project of the war, it was, in its day, also the world's largest painting—one that blatantly sought to arouse patriotic fervor in its viewers. This talk will trace the Panthéon’sshifting fortunes during its unlikely journey from Great War Paris to Cold War Kansas City—where it was reconfigured from a French-centered to a vastly smaller US-centered work—and the continuing journey of its fragments in the world's art market. Full of surprising twists and turns, the Panthéon’s story also provides insight into how World War I has been remembered and forgotten.

Mark Levitch - Bio

Art historian Mark Levitch is a researcher and writer at the National Gallery of Art. He is the author of Panthéon de la Guerre: Reconfiguring a Panorama of the Great War as well as several essays on French and American World War I art and visual culture, including, most recently, an article on World War I memorials for the Cambridge History of American Literature and Culture of the First World War. Before starting his graduate studies in art history, Levitch worked for nine years as an intelligence analyst for European affairs at the State Department.



Synopsis: The First Battle of Britain: British Response to German Strategic Bombing during the First World War

Protected for centuries by the Royal Navy and the natural defenses of the English Channel and North Sea, German efforts to attack the British people on the home front during the First World War caused panic and outrage among the masses. Politicians and the public pressured military leaders to use British aircraft to target German industry and cities in retaliation. Some government and military leaders argued that strategic bombing of German industrial targets would shorten the war by slowing down or stopping needed supplies to the Central Powers.

Damaging the German war machine, however, was not the only reason British leaders began advocating for a strategic bombing campaign against the Germans. Almost from the advent of aerial bombing strategists theorized that this new form of warfare could directly affect the civilian population of a country by damaging their morale and lessening their will to fight.

Throughout the war, for all sides, the morale of the citizens played an increasingly greater role in aerial operations. British morale was deeply influenced by this new form of warfare. In response the British high command conducted a strategic, offensive bombing campaign of their own. Of debatable military necessity, this campaign was primarily in response to British public demand for reprisal attacks on German cities in retaliation for aerial raids against England.

Christopher Warren - Bio

Christopher Warren, JD, PhD, serves as the Vice President of Collections and Senior Curator at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City, MO. Prior to joining the Museum and Memorial, Dr. Warren worked as the Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, Curator of American History at the Library of Congress, Senior Historian at Arlington National Cemetery, and as a historian and curator for the U.S. Department of Defense including the U.S. Air Force History & Museum Program and the Naval History & Heritage Command. He also served as a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and as a U.S. Air Force Intelligence Officer. His research specialties include late 19th and early 20th century U.S. and military history as well as the American experience in the First World War. He has published articles in numerous publications including the Journal of the American Revolution, MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Federal History Journal, Naval Aviation News, and routinely lectures on historic topics. Dr. Warren's doctoral dissertation, currently being edited for publication, focuses on the burial and memorialization of Confederate dead in national cemeteries during and after the Civil War. In addition to his PhD, Dr. Warren has a Juris Doctorate in Law from George Mason University and a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Kansas.



Synopsis: At the Dawn of Airpower - The U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps’ Approach to the Airplane, 1907-1917

This presentation explores the early development of aviation in the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps from 1907 to 1917, focusing on the motives behind their embrace of the airplane, the evolution of their respective air arms and guiding doctrines, and the role of early aviation pioneers. It delves into the implications of both intentional and inadvertent decisions on the growth of these emerging aviation branches. The slow progression of airplane technology in the U.S. during this era, coupled with the perception of WWI as a predominantly European affair, impacted the formation of doctrines and provided little motivation for the U.S. military to keep pace with European military aviation. The analysis identifies a key constraint of the period: the failure to establish robust links between the aviators and senior officers controlling budgets and organization, which significantly hindered U.S. military aviation's advancement.

Laurence M. Burke II - Bio

Laurence M. Burke, PhD, is the aviation curator at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, VA. He earned an undergraduate degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a master’s in Museum Studies from George Washington University, and, in 2014, a PhD in History and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University. Since then, he has taught history at the United States Naval Academy as a post-doc and then was Curator of U.S. Naval Aviation at the National Air and Space Museum for several years before starting the job at Quantico. He is interested in the history of technology, military history, and their intersection, particularly the history of military innovation and how technology and doctrine interact.


Synopsis: Interpreting World War I Aviation for 21st Century Audiences

With more than a century past and most Americans having little opportunity to encounter World War I aviation in educational or cultural settings, the challenges of designing a long-term museum exhibition focused on the topic are significant. In 2016, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum began a decade-long project to transform its exhibits at its National Mall site as part of a top-to-bottom renovation. Included in this project is the 5,000 sq. ft. World War I: The Birth of Military Aviation gallery, scheduled to open in less than two years.

The gallery is built on the unifying theme that World War I was the laboratory that transformed aviation and airplanes from aircraft of limited capability to reliable weapons of war that would also come to serve as the basis for a new aviation industry. To that end, the exhibition will highlight four key messages. First, that the personal experience of flying and fighting in the air was very different in World War I compared to today. Second, the war represented a fundamental shift in the nature of war where aviation for the first time played a noteworthy role. Third, many of the core roles of military aviation present today were first tested in the skies of World War I. Lastly, the massive wartime investments in aviation during World War I greatly accelerated the pace of development of not only aircraft design and performance, but also many of the other core technologies necessary to make aviation practical for military or commercial use.

To create an interpretive frame that effectively conveys these themes and ideas to an audience with little connection to them requires utilizing a broad range of museum tools and best practices. To this end, the National Air and Space Museum is investing in a broad range of techniques to highlight a range of remarkable artifacts, engaging graphics, interactive experiences, and a spectrum of powerful multimedia elements. This presentation will outline these techniques in more detail and explore some of the crucial decisions made along the way.

Roger Connor, Ph.D. - Bio

Dr. Connor serves as lead curator for the World War I and World War II exhibitions currently under development at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, as well as a temporary exhibition on Advanced Air Mobility. He is also a supporting curator on the Modern Military Aviation gallery and a temporary exhibition highlighting aerospace innovations to combat climate change.

Roger curates the museum’s collections of rotorcraft and VTOL aircraft, drones, Army ground force aviation, instruments and avionics, along with infrastructure and ground support equipment. He received his BA from Virginia Tech and holds an MA in Museum Studies from The George Washington University, an MA in American History from George Mason University, and a Ph.D. in American History from George Mason University.

Roger is an experienced fixed wing commercial pilot with over 4,000 hours of flight time, including over 3,000 hours in dual instruction given. He has held flight instructor certificates in the United States and United Kingdom and served as a designated private pilot examiner for the UK CAA. He also holds a seaplane rating and has nearly completed the requirements for a private pilot's helicopter rating.



 Synopsis: New Objects, New Stories: Artifacts in NASM’s New WWI Gallery

The National Air and Space Museum has had a World War I gallery since opening its museum on the National Mall in 1976. The decision in 2016 to not only update the museum building and systems, but also to take a fresh look at the content of the galleries, presented a rare opportunity to bring a new WWI gallery to the public. Besides the inclusion of new scholarship, planning the new gallery allowed staff to look at the broader collection of WWI artifacts and how they might illustrate the storyline being crafted for the gallery. This process resulted in some surprising discoveries. Many artifacts not seen by the public in many years were chosen for display and new information about other objects came to light. Searches through the collection also led to the discovery of some extremely rare artifacts that were either forgotten or not previously recognized.

This presentation is a follow-on to Dr. Connor’s look at the broader process of planning and executing an entirely new WWI gallery and will dig deeper into the specific artifacts chosen for inclusion in the gallery. While many iconic artifacts will be returning, we will look at the many new artifacts, new information that has come to light for some of the artifacts familiar from previous exhibitions, and new ways of displaying familiar artifacts. We will also look at the process of conserving objects that are over 100 years old for display in a museum gallery.

Christopher Moore - Bio

Christopher Moore curates the National Air and Space Museum’s collection of aircraft armament and the model aircraft collection. Recently he has also taken responsibility for the museum’s collection of pre-1920 aircraft. He serves as the curator for the newly opened Early Flight gallery at the museum and is a supporting curator for the WWI, WWII, and Modern Military galleries, especially on the subject of aircraft armament. Prior to joining the Smithsonian, he served as an officer in the United States Coast Guard, specializing in aviation, navigation, and marine safety. He was also a collections specialist with the National Museum of American History before joining the National Air and Space Museum. He received his BA in European History from the University of California, San Diego, and his MA in American History from George Mason University.