Museum volunteers are priceless

An often-repeated phrase in museums, as with so many organizations, is, “We couldn’t manage without our volunteers.” At the AMA’s National Model Aviation Museum this certainly is the case.

For us, it begins at the top with the AMA Executive Council—all volunteers who oversee the museum. It is through the council members’ direction that the museum became a reality in the AMA’s old headquarters in Reston, Virginia. They then decided to relocate to the current building in Muncie, Indiana.

Today, direct input about the strategic direction for the museum is provided to the council by the museum’s Steering Committee. Again, composed of volunteers, this committee helps to plan the future of the museum.

A third volunteer committee, the museum’s Acquisition Committee, reviews artifacts offered as donations to the museum. These volunteers have the difficult task of reviewing great models and determining if they should be included in the museum’s collection.

Many tremendously talented individuals have also supported the museum throughout the years—helping in a myriad of other functions. These tasks have included providing tours and helping staff the museum, providing flight demonstrations during AMA/museum events, building and designing exhibits, moving aircraft, restoring aircraft, drawing plans for and building reproductions of historic aircraft, helping inventory the museum’s collection, and assisting in collection/library research.

The late Bob Abernathy provides a tour of the museum.
(L-R): Jim Belknap (deceased), Bob Abernathy, Rich LaGrange, and Tom Gurbach help sort 15,000-plus plans from the John Pond Plans collection, as part of the early days of the AMA Plans Service.
Jim and Bob help sort plans.
(L-R): Don Sanqunetti and Tom Gurbach working on a wind tunnel exhibit.
Alan Hokenson helps inventory the museum’s magazine collection.
(L-R): Don Sanqunetti, Alan Hokenson, and Scott Cheslick with their reproduction of the first CL model, the Miss Shirley. Scott built the airplane, Don the landing gear, and Alan helped with the dummy engine.
Jim Belknap admires his work on the museum’s theater marquee.
Robert Winchester moves an air compressor as part of the restoration shop rework.
Terry Hreno helps with tours and has built reproductions for the museum. He is pictured with his Curtiss-Bleecker helicopter built from a March 1931, Model Airplane News magazine construction article.
(L-R): Don Sanqunetti and Bob Rahe suspend the MQM-170A.
After working on the Robert “Hoot” Gibson exhibit pictured at right, the volunteers got to meet Hoot. (L-R): Chuck Keith, Hoot Gibson, Jeff Groves, and Phil Conner.
Don Sanqunetti and Gary Rice construct an exhibit case.
John Lorbiecki with his reproduction of Frederick Lanchester’s 1894 twin-pusher.

—by Michael Smith, National Model Aviation Museum director

One comment

  1. If AMA still has need of volunteers I’d like to be considered. I volunteered some time back, when Maria Van Vreede was there, working as a docent I also aided former volunteer Scott Cheslik with the identification of former Iron Curtain and Asian engines. BTW, Scott’s in ill health, and would surely like to hear from some of the folks who still remember him. He’s at 765-808-7588.

    More recently I volunteered at Minnetrista in their exhibit construction shop. The Covid pandemic ended the shop volunteer program, so I’m seeking another volunteer position.

    I have both training and experience working with children in reading programs, and with adults as an ESL tutor.

    Because diminished balance and coordination have precluded R/C building/flying, I now build stick and tissue models. (So what’s with planting an R/C strip smack dab in the middle of the FF site (Area 4) ?
    I have NO computer skills, so any job that involves computers beyond the basics would not be a good fit.
    My last paying job was at HiWay 3 Hardware, where I was their first, and until recently only Gold Level certified Still technician.

    Please let me know if I may be of use to you!

    Geoff Sanders

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