Destiny at Daytona: The Frank Lockhart Story, the life of the first rookie to win the Indy 500, who died attempting the Land Speed Record in 1928, at only age 25;
Screenplays in Development:
First Across, on the very first flight across any ocean, the NC-4s epic voyage of 1919;
Audacious, the life of Revolutionary War Naval Hero, Captain John Peck Rathbun;
Alone and Unarmed, the story of a WWII Piper Cub Army Artillery Liaison Pilot in the Italian Campaign;
Navy History Consultant/Researcher/Writer:
Mr. Bayer appeared on PBS TV’s History Detectives series as subject matter expert on the flight of the US Navy’s NC-1, 3, and 4 flying boats (NC Transatlantic Expedition of 1919), of which the NC-4 completed the 1st air crossing of any ocean (8 yrs. before Lindbergh’s epic solo) http://www.pbs.org/opb/historydetectives/video/1486853815/
He was a speaker at both the 100th and 90th anniversary celebrations of the NC-4 flight at the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation area in western Long Island (site of former NAS Rockaway, NY).
Military History Editor/Researcher/Writer:
He edited, designed (including cover) and produced the 2nd & 3rd editions of a WWII US Army Liaison Pilot’s memoir, Alone and Unarmed (1968, revised 2004 & 2017), Ernest E. Kowalik’s autobiography of his experiences in the North African and Italian Campaigns, which Mr. Bayer also self-published. The most recent edition includes 90 additional public domain images, which were sourced primarily from US Army official period photos, https://smile.amazon.com/Alone-Unarmed-Pilot-Sharing-Artillery/dp/1546810269/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=kowalik+alone+and+unarmed&qid=1557512896
Additional Writing Experience:
Published professional freelance writer on related topics (Navy & transportation history)
Public Affairs/Mass Communications Experience:
Navy Public Affairs experience, including as division officer for 22 Navy enlisted Mass Communications Specialists; identified communications needs and developed informational materials that informed audiences of unit and Navy accomplishments, goals, and activities, for USS Iwo Jima, a large amphibious assault ship;
Denver Navy Week: At Navy Recruiting District Denver, helped plan, organize, and coordinate visits, tours and liaison with specialists (Navy SEAL “Leap Frogs” parachute team, FAA filings for jumps, airspace deconfliction, etc.);
Designed, constructed and maintained three former Navy history websites on: The First Across Organization, on the NC Transatlantic Expedition; Naval Group China/Sino-American Cooperative Organization (SACO); The Silver Eagles (Naval Enlisted Pilots[NAPs]).
Podcasting: In Development: a 757 History (Virginia Beach, VA) local history podcast, as well as a broader history podcast, History's Alive.
Mr. Bayer is also a lifelong aviation enthusiast, former enlisted Naval Aircrewman, and STEM/STEAM aviation teacher and educational consultant. He supervised construction of seven actual, FAA-certified aircraft by youth programs during a five-year period.
Biographical Interview, RE: Destiny at Daytona
The Latin translation of Excelsior* is “higher” or “ever upward.” John Bayer of Virginia Beach is in many ways, an embodiment of the expression, a self-described lifelong learner who has earned three degrees from Excelsior College, most recently a MA in Liberal Arts. Bayer retired from the military in 2015, after 37 years of uniformed service (24 years of enlisted service and 13 as an officer), and has worked as a Navy civilian analyst since. He is a long-published freelance writer and historian.
A voracious reader with a love for history, civics, writing, and geography, Bayer...completed a “Creative Thesis” on Frank Lockhart, a 1920s American automobile racing driver whose legendary career was cut short by his tragic death while attempting a land speed record. Bayer's project, "Destiny at Daytona", included extensive research into the myth-making behind Frank Lockhart’s short-life and a screenplay...
Excelsior Life: Your thesis explores “Frank Lockhart and the Land Speed Record.” What inspired you to pull back the curtain and research the truth in his legend?
Bayer: I had been researching Lockhart on and off for over 20 years, which began as research for an art project based on his land speed record car, due to its “Buck Rogers”, very futuristic appearance. I was also familiar with many oft-repeated statements about his life and career that had the flavor of myth. Serendipitously, Racemaker Press, a small auto history publisher, released their book, Frank Lockhart: American Speed King, by Sarah Morgan-Wu and James O’Keefe... which had... the fruits of their research dispelling several myths on Lockhart that had been almost endlessly repeated in the nearly 90 years since his death.
Excelsior Life: What was it about Lockhart and the time period that engendered so much myth-making?
Bayer: The 1920s were a time of big dreams and even bigger characters. It was a new era of media-created personality, and Frank’s seeming to come out of nowhere to national prominence in less than a year with his 1926 rookie win at the Indy 500 lined right up with that sort of media attention. But Frank’s personality drew that sort of attention because he was different than the average driver; not a boozer, womanizer, nor free user of expletives, he fit the Charles Lindbergh mold a year before Lindbergh hit it big with his solo, non-stop Transatlantic flight. Lockhart was the clean-cut All-American, and that was what the public was looking for in the wake of the awful destruction of WWI – he fit the image of the idealized American hero.
Excelsior Life: The “creative” part of your thesis is a biographical motion picture script of Lockhart’s life story. How did your research add authentic and context to your tale?
Bayer: The key points clarified by Racemaker Press made the Lockhart career/life more truthful. The reading and research I’ve done for more than 40 years on American racing in general, and in Lockhart specifically these last 20+ years, gave me the technical accuracy I needed to portray the world of 1910s-1920s auto racing. That, combined with the larger context of the 20th Century’s American history as a broader interest of mine for even longer than that, gave me the cultural knowledge I needed to portray the broader era accurately as well.
*Excerpts from: Excelsior Theses Series: Frank Lockhart and the Land Speed Record; By Mike Lesczinski, December 27, 2016