War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator is a 57-minute documentary that tells the story of three young Americans from the South who volunteered as pilots in World War 1: Elliot White Springs of South Carolina, John McGavock Grider of Arkansas, and Lawrence Callahan of Kentucky. The South Carolina Channel will air this documentary as part of the Southern Lens series on Monday, November 6, 2017 at 9:00 p.m. SC Humanities supported this documentary with several Major Grants.
After the war, Elliott Springs was hailed as one of America’s leading aces but wanted no part of this glory. Instead, he published what he said was the diary of his dead comrade Grider, a book which in 1926 became a huge public sensation. The true story of the book’s authorship is examined in this documentary and is a compelling tale of self‑sacrifice and regret amidst the bitter memories of war.
War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator originally aired in 2003. The producer Robert Clem has updated the documentary with more footage and new interviews in honor of the 2017 Centennial of America’s entry into WWI, and the film has been upgraded to high definition video. More information about the film and Elliot Springs can be found on the website at: www.unknownaviator.com.
The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 21-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.
Image: Springs after a crash landing; courtesy of Foundation for New Media