C.A.P.S.  Home
PX Store
About  C.A.P.S.
Join  C.A.P.S.
Contact Us

“In Their Own Words: The B-17 Flying Fortress at War” 13 part documentary
“Air Combat Journal”

Goals of the “The Air Combat journal Radio Hour” project

“In Their Own Words:
The B-17 Flying Fortress at War”

Since 1995 CAPS founder and president Jon Cermin has been videotaping first person stories from WWII Army Air Corps personnel; primarily those associated with the B-17 Flying Fortress. It was the original intent of CAPS to produce a thirteen-part documentary on the B-17, from its inception prior to WWI, all the way through its many roles in aerial combat, to its many post war roles.

Due to budget problems, the B-17 series has temporarily been put on the back burner as CAPS president Jon Cermin continues to interview B-17 crewmembers for the 13 part documentary series. He is currently searching for Luftwaffe pilots and German flak gunners to complete the interview process. If you know any of these individuals, please CONTACT us!

While there are enough interviews “in the can” to complete this project (with the exception of the Germans), we are in dire need of funding to complete this project. A one hour pilot episode on B-17 Aeromedical Factors (Episode VII) has been completed, but it will take approximately $780,000 to complete this entire 13 part series.

While this may seem like an exorbitant amount of money, consider that typical programs for the History Channel, Travel Channel, Lifetime, etc. start in price at about $2,000 per finished minute. The “In Their Own Words” series will cost about half of that price, mainly because Jon has been working on this project since 1995 at his own expense and in his spare time. Much of the production work has already been done. The expensive part now is the post-production work (editing, graphics, music, etc.)

Post production is expensive because CAPS has to outsource nearly all of this work. While CCPI owns and has donated all of the production equipment to date (cameras, lighting equipment and microphones) and most labor needed to shoot the interviews, CAPS has to rely on outside vendors for a majority of the post production elements. These include editing, custom music, 3-D graphics, errors and omissions insurance, archives combat footage and duplication to name just a few of these expenses. And while we can amortize most of these expenses over the entire thirteen episode series, it still comes to about $78,000 per episode.

At this time, we have planed for each episode to be one hour in length, so this is still way under the $ 2,000 per finished minute quoted earlier. In fact, we have so much material, we may even stretch each episode to two hours.

Once we get going again with the B-17 series and it is completed, CAPS will pursue documentaries on other WWII aircraft and their crews. We foresee interviewing aircrews as an ongoing and almost daily process. A number of B-24 crewmembers have already been interviewed in anticipation on producing a B-24 documentary. Soon we will also begin interviewing veterans from the Korean War and the Viet Nam War; however, the WWII vets are our current priority due to their high mortality rate.

Air Combat Journal

In order to keep CAPS in the public eye, it was decided to take some of the interviews that have been recorded to date and first turn them into one hour radio programs, and then when finances allow, turn them into one hour TV shows. Another advantage of doing this is that producing these one hour shows would be considerable cheaper than producing the In Their Own Words: The B-17 Flying Fortress at War series. Once started, the Air Combat Journal radio shows could even be financially self-sustaining (which is very important).

CAPS is currently seeking financial support from foundations and benevolent entities for this purpose. What follows is an excerpt cut and pasted from our grant application which details the plans for Air Combat Journal. Note that this will produced in two phases. Phase one would be for turning this project into a radio program. Phase two, whose details are not listed below, will be for the Air Combat Journal television series. If you know of a benevolent foundation or entity, please CONTACT us!

Air Combat Journal Description of Request

The purpose of this letter is to request funding for Phase One for the “CAPS Radio Hour” radio program, which will cover thirteen one-hour episodes. With his full time for profit job, family responsibilities and civic commitments, CAPS president Jon Cermin is not able to dedicate enough time to complete these radio shows in a timely manner, i.e. one per week. Outside freelance and/or volunteer labor will be required to meet this goal. We can meet this goal with financial assistance in the amount of $3,564 per show. This will cover the cost of hiring outside contractors to edit radio shows, as well as cover expenses for material and distribution.

This is a very cost effective rate for this type of programming. In comparison, the professional audio engineer who had mixed the music for the first two shows (for B-17 pilot Dwight Olson and B-24 pilot Larry Bachman) bid $2,550 to just add and license the music for the shows. His fee did not include editing the narrative prior to adding the music, recompiling the edited audio to the video, section titles and graphics, or editing in sound effects (CCPI bought a sound effects library for this project, and these effects have been donated to CAPS as needed). His bid also did not include any duplication or distribution.

One element that drives up the expense of any broadcast program is music “broadcast rights”. This is above the cost of procuring the music and the labor of mixing the music into the show. Broadcast rights can vary; the aforementioned audio engineer in Dallas in his bid quoted $500 to cover “broadcast licensing”. First Com, a well-known music library in Dallas, Texas, quoted CAPS $3,200 per show just for broadcast rights of their music. This figure did not include the additional $1,500 to lease their music library for one year.

It appears that the best means of keeping production costs down is to contract a composer to score original music for CAPS. There are several advantages to this. One, our music themes will be unique to CAPS programming. Two, we will own the music in perpetuity, and thus not have to pay annual fees for leasing a library (First Com wanted $1,500/year). And finally, we will have better control over broadcast rights. We’ll still have to pay some broadcast fees to our composer and union musicians, but we can control these better as we’re not paying the huge mark up and sales commissions of for-profit music libraries. CAPS is currently in negotiations with composer Bob Parr, who is a well known and established composer and sound mixer on the east coast.

Even in paying for an original music score, which is estimated to be approximately $10,000, this can still be cost effective for two reasons: One, it can be amortized though hundreds of individual shows; and two, because so much of the other labor and equipment has been donated by CCPI. This includes the labor and equipment to do the video recording, the videotape stock, the editing equipment, and the sound effects library. If these expenses were billed rather than donated, it would easily triple the cost of this project.

Goals of the “The Air Combat journal Radio Hour” project:

Goal #1: To preserve on broadcast quality videotape the oral histories of WWII Aircrews.

Goal #2: To edit these interviews into informative, educational and entertaining 48 minute narrative programs (the length of one radio or TV broadcast hour, or a high school class period).

Goal #3: To disseminate the history and heritage of our WWII Army Air Corps veterans to a mass media audience as well as high school history and civics classes.

Goal #4: To give the interviewees a keepsake in the form of professionally produced DVDs of their oral history for the education and enlightenment of their descendants.


1. To distribute WWII oral histories to a mass media market on a weekly basis.
2. To give interviewees a personal keepsake to be passed on to children and grandchildren.
To generate income from:
memberships from radio show listeners
corporate sponsorships of the radio show.

4) To get regional and eventually nationwide media exposure to CAPS so that we can:
a) grow CAPS membership
b) identify more veterans to be interviewed
c) raise funds to perpetuate our mission


This project cannot continue at a meaningful pace and grow without outside funding. Many of those veterans who have been interviewed will never see their completed stories. Because of work conflicts and family commitments, Jon cannot produce these programs on his own at a fast enough pace to meet our goals. The clock is running out for many of the veterans that have already been interviewed. We at CAPS would really like to honor these veterans with a gift of historical preservation; by giving them the recognition they deserve by telling the world their stories of heroism and devotion to our country, and by giving them a keepsake that their heirs will be proud to watch and pass from generation to generation. We’d like to send these keepsakes to the original interviewees, not their surviving families. Time is not on our side. We hope you will help us in attaining our goals and objectives. For more information on this project, including funding requirements and a line item budget, contact Jon at jcermin@centurytel.net.

The Combat Aircrews’ Preservation Society is dedicated to recording
and preserving the first person stories of military aircrews for the purpose of distribution to the educational and broadcast media markets.

© 2006 C.A.P.S :: Site Design by: Interactive Business Solutons