Dudley Oatman is a volunteer docent at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. He was nominated to be the November, 2019 RSVP Volunteer of the Month by Bob Odelson and Katina Pescador. Dudley is an asset to the museum as both a tour guide and as an educator. He is well liked and respected by museum visitors, staff and his peers.
As Dudley was going through the docent training program at the museum, he developed a visual study tool using information from the museum’s official guidebook (and other docent training materials) to help him learn the required information more easily. His visual study tool, which he generously shared with others, presented information in an easy-to-understand manner. He did this by using story boards, exhibit displays, artifacts and aircraft. This provides a great complimentary resource for other docent trainees to use when learning about the museum’s extensive collections. It is a wonderful aide for the visual learner.
Dudley is the “go to” guy for anything about helicopters, fixed wing aircraft and even the workings of the FAA. He was a Cobra helicopter pilot in Vietnam, flew commercial jets for years and even worked for the FAA. Dudley epitomizes the dedication and command of relevant facts needed to be a successful docent at the Air & Space Museum. Due to all of this, Dudley is called upon to be a docent at special events held in the museum at night and for special groups or activities.
The museum staff are often reminded (by the way Dudley conducts himself) of his dedication to the art of being a well-informed docent. Dudley never takes his duties lightly and he routinely looks for ways to improve the docent experience at the museum. His insight into the intricacies of flight in all aircraft and one’s ability to understand an aircraft have improved the knowledge and database of material available for all docents, especially the newest ones. Dudley Oatman is one of the most open and kind-hearted human beings you will ever meet. A staff member at the museum described Dudley in this way: “For a man who has seen the horrors of war, he has one of the most optimistic points of view I have ever encountered”. Dudley is also an excellent teacher of anything related to aviation (and helicopters in particular). His favorite part of volunteering is sharing his vast array of knowledge with the younger generations. We are lucky to have Dudley as a volunteer at one of San Diego’s museums and we would like to thank him for all that he does!