Paul Tibbets – Aviation Education Pioneer Lesson Plan

Grade Range:  6-8

Learning Objectives:

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Research and write about Paul Tibbets who became a major U.S. Air Force Pilot and Commander.
  • Make a class presentation about this aviation pioneer.

Biography Sources:

Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.

Paul Tibbets

Pilot, Brig. Gen. Paul W. Tibbets (USAF Ret.)

Paul Tibbets

National Curriculum Standards:

McRel Standards at,

Language Arts Standards:

  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process.
  • Uses grammatical and mechanical conventions in written compositions.
  • Gathers and uses information for research purposes.
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the reading process.
  • Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies for reading a variety of informational texts.
  • Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning.

Historical Understanding Standards: Understands the historical perspective.

  • Understands that specific individuals and the values of those individuals held had an impact on history.
  • Analyzes the influence specific ideas and beliefs had on a period of history.
  • Analyzes the effect that specific "chance events" had on history.
  • Analyzes the effects specific decisions had on history.
  • Understands that historical accounts are subject to change based on newly uncovered records and interpretations.
  • Knows different types of primary and secondary sources and the motives, interests, and bias expressed in them (e.g., eyewitness accounts, letters, diaries, artifacts, photos, magazine articles, newspaper accounts, and hearsay).

Technology Standards: Understands the relationships among science, technology, society, and the individual.

  • Knows ways in which technology has influenced the course of history (e.g., revolutions in manufacturing, warfare, agriculture, medicine, and sanitation).
  • Knows that technology and science have a reciprocal relationship (e.g., technology drives science, as it provides the means to access outer space and remote locations, collect and treat samples, collect, measure, store, and compute data, and communicate information, that science drives technology, as it provides principles for better instrumentation and techniques, and the means to address questions that demand more sophisticated instruments).
  • Knows ways in which technology and society influence one another (e.g., new products and processes for society for society are developed through technology, that technological changes are often accompanied by social, political, and economic changes, that technology is influenced by social needs, attitudes, values, and limitations, and cultural backgrounds and beliefs).

Tools and Materials:

  • Computers with Internet access and printer.

Teaching Strategy:

A discussion with students about Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets, Jr. What makes his accomplishments special? How has he become an aviation icon and pioneer? Have students brainstorm qualities that could make a person an aviation notable and write them on the dry-erase board for the class.

Allow for library and computer research time for students to find information about Paul Tibbets. Explain to the students the need to gather more than just factual achievements or actions. Indicate the importance of finding out personal information about Paul Tibbets. The objective of the lesson is to understand how aviation icons and pioneers are three-dimensional figures and come from backgrounds not far removed or dissimilar from our own. These aviation Icons are much more than the superficial image that the public has come to know about them.

After students have answered these questions, students should give a 3-5 minute presentation to the class on the aviation explorer/pioneer selected. Allow time for students to ask follow up questions for each presentation.


Specific questions that students should answer regarding their aviation explorer and pioneer:

  • What qualities do you feel make this person an aviation pioneer?
  • Describe the moment(s), which make them an aviation pioneer? What actions did Paul Tibbets take in the 2nd World War that was significant in bringing the war to a close? What were the risks that he faced? What were the potential consequences to the United States and the world had Tibbets not carried out his mission? What lessons can be learned from the action taken and how might it apply to our world situation today?
  • Ask students the meaning of the words aviation, explorer and pioneer. Solicit examples and write students responses on the board.


  • Organize a class trip to a local museum to learn more about aviation pioneers.
  • If an aviation museum does not exist in your area, e-mail the closest aviation museum director for information on the aviation pioneer selected.
  • Search for a local historian or area aviator who might offer insight into your aviation pioneer, willing to make a presentation to your class.

Have students post a review of the aviation pioneer on the school newsletter, web site, or create an aviation-themed web site.