Chapter 2 - Setting Forth
Malcolm Lambert

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922 Having got that lot of my chest, I'll now turn to a more personal account of what happened to me and my particular project.

These 'reflections' are by no means meant to be a definitive 'how to do it' guide but more of a record of how I found things personally. They are written with the value of hindsight but with a few extra tips thrown in.

During my tours of several museums I looked at and inspected (where possible) many exhibits. All were considered from a perspective rooted in my self-imposed goal of how could I help keep some of this technical heritage of ours from ending up as piles of magnesium dust in a few years time. I also wanted to leave my mark on something that would at least show that I had been there. I donít think that this was an egotistical stance, just a genuine yearning to make a difference to at least one aircraft.

Eventually I chose the Midland Air Museum (MAM). Using the criteria I have set out previously I talked at great length and very openly to the trustees about my plans already formulating in my mind.

A worthwhile check at this stage is to talk to the museum about the actual ownership and history of the aircraft. It could be that a private owner doesn't relish the idea of a stranger working on 'their' airframe. You could also save a lot of time in the future if you can get to talk to someone who has worked on the aircraft in the past, or be given the opportunity to check any documentation that the museum might have.

Check also to see if there are any aircraft manuals or old course notes available for the airframe in question. A good start to your new experience is to take some time and sit down with the books, try and learn as much as you can about the background and history of not only the aircraft but of the the museum from any available books or documentation. Let me assure you no-one is going to think any the less of you for it, as the experts will readily admit everyone can learn from reading the manuals.

In every museum there are certain aircraft that are the considered the 'gems' or treasures of their collection. Of course, by definition, there are also representatives of the 'cooking' type exhibits. My plans to take on a PR Canberra as a project fitted in very well with MAM's policy of allocating responsibility for an aircraft to an individual wherever possible. As this aircraft could be said, by some, to fall in to the 'cooking' category (*) I think they felt happy that, until they knew me better, I couldnít do any real harm.

Now, as I mentioned before, I had a fairly respectable aircraft orientated CV and MAM were happy enough with my attitude and physical condition (important) to allow me to start work on the aircraft straight away - this will not always be the case with volunteers. If, however, you show the correct attitude and willingness to become a member of a team, then I assure you that your turn will come, maybe not on your first choice of aircraft but be patient. The museum world is crying out for volunteer commitment and training is becoming available for those without an aviation background.

(*) Although PR.3 Canberra, WF922 is one of only two complete airframes left in existance of this variant. (Webmaster)

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