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Making a Difference: A Gateway to Great Storytelling

When filmmakers Dorian and Elaine Walker of Bowling Green began researching America’s first war aircraft, known as the “Liberty Plane,” it became apparent they had stumbled onto a surprisingly moving story about our nation’s resolve in the face of World War I, but a story nonetheless that risked being lost to time.

“I’m not only a filmmaker, but I’m an aviator and fly historic airplanes – so I thought I knew just about everything there was about old airplanes,” said Dorian Walker. “But I didn’t know this story, and neither did any of my friends. It’s a great American story, and it was in the history books just gathering dust.”

The documentary they made, Legends of the Sky: The Liberty Plane, premieres this month on KET, and the couple said they couldn’t be happier to see the story reach a public television audience.

“KET has been part of our family since the time when our children were young,” said Elaine Walker, former mayor of Bowling Green. “We’ve enjoyed KET so much as a family over the years. It’s great when our professional lives mix with our personal lives and we can share our documentary with KET’s audience because we know it’s an audience that’s eager to learn about history and hear a great story.”

Dorian, who together with his wife runs Peridot Pictures, credited KET and public television for helping sustain interest in and demand for documentary storytelling.

It’s one of the many reasons we love KET. It’s a channel we can always turn to for quality programming and great storytelling.

Elaine Walker
Filmmakers Elaine and Dorian Walker standing smiling in front of an old bi-plane.

KET and PBS are “gateways to the documentary form,” Dorian said, adding that Ken Burns, with his groundbreaking PBS documentaries such as The Civil War, Baseball and Jazz, set the form’s standard, humanizing his film’s characters and dazzling audiences with the notion that history could be as every bit as thrilling as Hollywood.

“It’s one of the many reasons we love KET,” Elaine added. “It’s a channel we can always turn to for quality programming and great storytelling. And we often find ourselves, later on, talking about the things we watched on KET.”

Having moved to Kentucky from California in the early 1990s, the Walkers said they quickly fell in love with their new home in the Commonwealth. And they appreciate that KET’s programs, such as Kentucky Edition, Kentucky Life and all of KET’s forums and documentaries, keep them informed about Kentucky history, its personalities and its statewide issues.

“We are so in love with this state that we always look to see if there’s a Kentucky connection we can include in our productions,” Dorian said. “And in this case there was.”

The couple discovered several local ties from the Liberty Plane to Kentucky, including a young telegraph operator from Midway named Bee Rife Osborne, who served as the aircraft’s first test pilot in France before the war.

It’s stories like these, of the individual people who are living through these historic moments, Dorian added, that are the hallmarks of the great documentaries and educational programs found on KET and public television.

“We love that KET gives us a gateway to these great stories,” Dorian said.