Hi all, thought I'd answer some frequently asked questions for you...
Q: Who are you, really?
A: My name is Nate, I was born in 1970, I went to college in Missouri and Kansas, I am married and have five kids (all boys!). And I have two super fat incredibly lazy cats that barf on my couch a lot. I hate those cats.
Q: Where do you live?
A: Currently I live near Fort Wayne, Indiana, though I've lived in many other states over the years, and I'm originally from Northern California.
Q: Do you have any military service?
A: Not even a little bit.
Q: Does anyone in your immediate family have any military experience?
A: My dad was in the Navy for a few years in the 1950s right out of high school, but that's about it.
Q: Do you have any aviation experience?
A: I have taken maybe four airliner flights in my life. I've not been on anything smaller than a 737.
Q: What do you do for a living then?
A: I work at a Walmart store, been with the company since 1989.
Q: Do you just do the planes part of millionmonkeytheater.com, or all of it?
A: All of it, old movies and crappy art projects and all, everyone needs hobbies!
Q: How did you get started with forgotten jets?
A: I was watching all these bad sci-fi b-movies and they always had stock-footage jet fighters shooting rockets at the Bug-Eyed Moon Monsters that were here for our women, and one day I got to wondering what types of planes those were. A bit of internet searching led me to Joe Baugher, but that also left me wanting more details. So I made my own website and here I am.
Q: How much money have you spent out of pocket on this project since you started?
A: When I started this in 2006 I made a promise to myself that I would not spend a single penny on it. 10 years later and I have spent exactly zero cents on old jets.
Q: How big is your aviation library at home?
A: I own exactly zero books or magazines related to aviation or the military. My place is so small and I have so many kids that there is literally no room for anything here. Plus, and I can't stress this enough, books cost real money and that's not going to happen.
Q: If you haven't spent any real money, where does your info come from?
A: Ah, my most frequent question! I get 100% of my info online for free, no joke. Google searches and the subsequent link-following trips account for a lot of it, as do emails from helpful readers. Print materials, books and magazines I can usually find on one of the many Russian modeling forums for free, the Russians have no concept of copyright and that's great for me. Just have a fantastic virus blocker software, Google Translate, and some patience and you can find just about every book or magazine on any subject for free.
Q: Have people offered to sell you stuff?
A: Surprisingly often. Mostly from overseas, like the guy from Belgrade who wanted to sell me some info on Yugoslav F-84Gs that only he had (or so he said). While I would love to have that info, I refuse to spend real money on anything, so I turn down all such offers.
Q: Are you attempting to make any money off your website?
A: Ha! No. Look around, see any pop-up ads or banners or anything like that? I wouldn't even know how to monetize all this even if I wanted to, which I don't, because this is just a hobby for me. I do realize, however, that there are people who are trying to make money off old jet research and that's fine with me. I am just a casual collector of information, I have no ulterior motive here and I am no threat to all you "serious historians" out there, it's just a hobby to tinker at when the kids are napping and there's nothing good on TV. This is an "information only" website, and, once again, I'm not making a penny off it in any way.
Q: What do you see as your role in this hobby?
A: In a weird way my site has become a "crowd sourced" wikipedia type of open site where everyone is free to contribute pieces to the puzzle. I'm happy to be able to offer this resource to people to use as they see fit. None of this is "mine" in any sense of the word.
Q: You live 45 minutes from the Wright-Patterson Museum, why have you never gone there?
A: Because that would cost money. And I'm honestly not that interested in seeing the planes themselves, I just enjoy the hunt for info. It's a geneaology project, these planes are like humans to me.
Q: What is your favorite airplane you've studied so far?
A: I'm partial to the Rooskie Red Team stuff, the swing-wing Fitter fascinates me the most. I think the Vigilante is as pretty a plane as has ever been built.
Q: Are there some types of planes that you will never have a page on?
A: Sure, F-100, F-104, F-106, because those types already have webpages for them that are run by professionals making a living doing what I would be putting up for free.
Q: You used to say that about the A-4 and the F-4, didn't you?
A: Shut up.
Q: How many emails do you get from readers?
A: Varies, but almost every single day I get at least a couple emails on planes. I love emails!
Q: Are they mostly positive?
A: So far. There are bastards in every population, so of course I occasionally get a sour apple, but I'd say 99.9% of emailers are nice people looking to help. Old planes is such a niche hobby that we all get to know each other pretty well after a while.
Q: What sorts of things are in those emails?
A: They run the gamut from “Hey you screwed this up.” to “Nice job, bro.”, and everything in between. Sometimes they will have ten pages of detailed info on a plane type, other times it just a single number or letter to add, and I'm super happy to get anything at all. Seriously, please correct my errors, if you don't I sure won't. And don't be upset if I don't email back the same day, I have an extremely busy life (except when it isn't).
Q: What is your feeling on photos?
A: Lawyers, 'nuf said.
Q: Can you do a page on the F-22 Raptor!?! Pew-pew! Zap! I love that pla...
A: No, no, stop, just stop. Next question.
Q: Did you know that early ICBMs, such as the Atlas and Titan, carried USAF serial numbers?
A: Really? Hmmm...I'll have to remember that...
Q: Can you help with finding personnel records or accident reports?
A: Ah, no, sorry, not my thing. Nor can I help you sell your F-86 canopy on eBay so stop asking me.
Q: What do you want more than anything?
A: Pilot flight logbooks, by far. Nothing is more valuable to my research than logbooks. Give them to me! Ok, just loan them or tell me what's in them. And your shoebox of old slides from your service days? Give me those, too! But digitally scan them first, ok?
Q: Have you had much luck with "official" Air Force information requests?
A: Depends on the nation. My own government seems uninterested in my requests for information, other than to send me brochures on the F-35. In my experience the smaller the Air Force, the more willing they are to humor me. It's actually kinda sad that I know more about the Polish or Belgian Air Forces than the American Air Force, and I'm a taxpayer! I could go on about this for hours, but I won't.
Q: Do the Turks think you are a Greek spy?
A: Yes, but I'm not.
Q: Do the Greeks think you are a Turkish spy?
A: Yes, but I'm probably not.
Q: Are you on a terrorist watch-list because of your dealings with the Iranian Air Force?
A: I haven't been in an airport since 2003 but suspect so!
Q: What is the most frustrating thing about this project?
A: How addicting it is. I can't tell you how many thousands (and thousands...) of hours I've spent on these pages and they never, ever get any closer to being complete. I use the term "scavenger hunt" a lot, and that's the best way to understand this sort of never-ending quest.
Q: What is the best thing about doing this project?
A: The people I've met are the best. And I mean that in every way. From Tjalling to Tom to Chris to Ron to the literally hundreds of others that I can't remember right now, just about everyone I've met has been fantastic. I'm glad to be able to offer a place for people to contribute their memories and their efforts, makes me happy.
Q: Does it scare you that one day Joe Baugher will step off into a clearing at the edge of the path, so to speak, and your piddly little site will be all that's left?
A: Hell yes. I hope the Godfather of Serials lives forever, his site is run by an actual professional aviation historian, no replacement for that.
Q: Why have you branched out into propeller planes?
A: Just to keep things fresh, staving off burn-out and all that.
Q: Why is there no place to leave comments on the plane pages?
A: I had comments enabled in the beginning but soon it was filling up with dozens and dozens of comments like "AC-1 Burt Burtleson Ramstein 66-67 any other machinist mates out there who remember Sgt Carl and Fat Louie?". This is not Facebook, it's a site about airplanes, go away.
Q: How close were you, back in 2006, to making this Forgotten Steam Trains or Forgotten Victorian-era Ironclad Warships?
A: Sooooo close. When I was looking for some new hobby back in 2006 to add to the existing movie review site, I narrowed it down to old warships, old trains, or old planes. By sheer blind accident I picked old planes.
Q: Do you build model planes?
A: No, never have, probably never will. That said, I'm aware that a large number of my readers are model builders, that's why I'm happy to provide them with info to make their hobby better.
Q: Cats or dogs?
A: That's easy, cats rule, dogs drool.
The End. Thanks for reading!