Saturday, October 12, 2013


Hi. This is Darlene Franklin coming to you again. My third book in the Maple Notch Dreams series comes out in January. Homefront Dreams takes place against the backdrop of life on the homefront during the Second World War.

Movies like It's a Wonderful Life and my mother's childhood memories form the basis of my impressions of life during the war. After a friend mentioned the volunteer work of plane spotters, I knew I wanted to include it in my book.

As many as one and a half million Americans became part of the Army Air Forces Ground Observation Corps. The Aeroplane Spotter was published in January 1940. By July of that year, months before the United States joined the war, the town of Mayfield, New York, had already organized volunteers and set up regular schedules on December 10, 1941.

The citizens of Kent, Connecticut, beat Mayfield to it, however, beginning the earliest Corp. They quickly sprang up and down both coasts. They chose the highest point in the area for their observation posts, of course, and usually worked in pairs. Citizens of every age took part, from high school students to senior citizens.

The observers were meant to serve as an early warning system to avoid another surprise attack like the one at Pearl Harbor. They had to stay current on all military planes, both Allies and Axis. Playing cards were used for quick recognition of the various planes.

For all the preparation, only one German airplane ever entered American air space during the war. American airmen flew a captured plane to Florida. The locals weren't advised of the arrival, to test their effectiveness. They identified the make and model of the plane before it reached land.

Friendly aircrafts provided some amusement. A plane flew at treetop level in Connecticut, rising just in time to avoid the local hill. (The pilot in my book wasn't so lucky.)

While plane spotting continues to be a popular hobby (I found several journals for plane spotters at Amazon), the need for the organized corp carried over from World War II to the Cold War before dwindling away.


  1. This is a great post for a great era. Like you, (babyboomer!) I grew up on stories of my mother's youth and the war. She recalls the Pearl Harbor attack via radio, and ended up graduating from high school during the war. There were hardly any boys at their big dance. We just don't have a clue what that was like as VietNam was so different.

    When I was a travel agent I knew all the jets by their shape and my kids thought that was cool. (too many new planes now)
    I'll be looking for this release Darlene!

  2. My grandpa was a volunteer air raid warden. I barely remember when Pearl Harbor was bombed as we listened to the radio, but I do remember how mad Grandpa was at the Japanese and how somber everyone was that Sunday. I had just started school. Our teachers talked about and we had bomb drills much like fire drills today. Grandpa was a "plane spotter" too and made sure we had black-out curtains on all our windows. Great post, Darlene. Brought back a lot of memories.

  3. What an interesting bit of information. I never knew about plane spotters. Thank you for a great post, Darlene.

  4. I loved this post and never knew about plane observation posters and places. Love to read this book. So glad you are doing better, Darlene. sharon, ca

  5. I always enjoy the history you share, Darlene! I find the plane spotting fascinating and look forward to learning more!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  6. I left a message yesterday. I thought I did. Hopefully today will go through! So glad you enjoyed this tidbit of history. It was the perfect element for my story

  7. Appreciate learning more about this fascinating time in history and the plane spotters who kept us safe during wartime. Thank you, Darlene, for the post.

  8. Interesting. We lived in Houston, Tx. during the war and had moved there from a small town about four hours a way. My dad went to work at the shipyards. And, the women were busy doing every kind of thing during that time to help the service guys and country. Not at all like things are now. I never heard of the plane spotters. Of course I was about 9 and 10. Can't believe people still do that.

  9. Had never heard of plane spotters - interesting, thanks for the post, Darlene!