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Floating runways: Film explores Lake Michigan's critical role in training World War II pilots

Aug 5, 2016

When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, America was pulled into World War II. But, the military needed -- among other things -- pilots. In particular, the U.S. needed pilots who could land and take off from aircraft carriers. But the carriers the U.S. had at the time were desperately needed in the theater of war.

So, how to train the pilots?

That’s the subject of a new documentary Heroes On Deck: World War II on Lake Michigan.

John Davies, the director of the documentary, joined Stateside to talk about this little-known historical story.

With no aircraft carriers available, the program had to get creative. It converted Great Lakes passenger steamers into makeshift carriers for pilots to learn how to land their planes. 

Listen to the full interview above to hear more about the training that took place, why they chose Lake Michigan, and what happened to the planes after they would crash.

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Watch the trailer of the documentary below.