‘Millionaires’ Unit’ Author to Discuss Birth of Naval Aviation at Lecture

Marc Wortman’s lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

In 1916, a group of Yale undergrads set out to start an aeronautics club at their school. They knew nothing about aviation, but they bonded over their shared love of flight. A year later, they would become the nucleus of the U.S. Naval Air Reserve, leading America’s charge into World War I.

Author and award-winning writer Marc Wortman will discuss the significant role of these men, later dubbed the Millionaire’s Unit, during the 2014 George W. Jalonick III and Dorothy Cockrell Jalonick Memorial Distinguished Lecture at 4 p.m., Saturday, July 12, in the Clark Center Auditorium.

Wortman’s discussion, “The Millionaires' Unit: How the Navy Learned to Fly in World War I,” will be based on his book The Millionaire’s Unit: The Aristocratic Flyboys Who Fought the Great War and Invented American Air Power. His detailed story of flying, fighting and dying sheds light on their lives in war.

Wortman’s lecture is free and open to the public, but registration is required. There also will be a book signing and reception after the lecture. The annual Jalonick Lecture Series is hosted by Eugene McDermott Library’s Special Collections Department and the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.

“Aviation came of age during WWI, so it is appropriate that this year’s lecture covers aviation in The Great War,” said Paul Oelkrug, coordinator for Special Collections. “Who would have guessed that a group of aristocratic Yale students would come together to form an aviation unit that would help form the basis of naval air power?”

The Jalonick Lecture Series was established to inform and enlighten the public about the history of flight by bringing aviation specialists to the Dallas community.

The Millionaire’s Unit is also the basis for a documentary in production. It will premiere at this summer’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2014. The book was earlier optioned to be made into a feature film by Working Title Films.

In addition to The Millionaire’s Unit, Wortman is also the author of The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta. He also is working on a new book detailing the period before the United States’ entry into World War II titled Waking to War: A Divided America in a World at War.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].