This internship has been very interesting, and I have learned a lot not only about aviation history but about Colorado history too. My typical duties at the museum were as a docent, but I was also able to perform some restoration, research, and exhibit maintenance work as well. This internship also nicely coincided with a summer course I am taking that is about Air Power Studies.
The majority of the time spent at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum was spent performing basic duties as a docent. This entailed giving guests a basic orientation when they entered the museum, helping in the gift shop, and occasionally running the cash register if needed. Sometimes docents were also called upon to clean and maintain some of the exhibits in the museum as well. This provided the basic emphasis behind the day-to-day operation of a museum.
Once established at the museum, and once our knowledge base had grown to the point where we could be considered subject matter experts on certain displays or aircraft, we were called upon to act as tour guides. I provided background information on the original airbase where the museum now stands, and I also provided detailed histories and information on the artifacts, exhibits, and aircraft within the museum. Some groups required a lot of detail, while others required much less. As a tour guide, I became attuned to the groups needs in order to better serve them on their visit. The same can be said of the orientation speech for guests. Some wanted more specific detail, while others really just wanted to get on with looking at aircraft. A good guide could determine how much or how little information to express for the given situation.
I was able to do some research work on occasion while at the museum. This is where I really felt I was contributing to the knowledge base. For example, new placards were being created for each of the aircraft in the museum. Since many of the aircraft did not have placards or the existing ones had incorrect information, I felt it was important that we inspect each airframe’s data plate as a starting point for the new information placards. DJ Armstrong and myself crawled into each and every aircraft on the premises to personally inspect the data plate. This was a hot and dirty job, but one we felt was well worth doing. Once all that information had been collected, we researched the aircraft’s individual history in its records jacket to look for any other pertinent information. We created an accurate profile for each individual airframe at the museum, and then we provided that information to the Curator for the purpose of creating new placards. The placards were then created.
Occasionally, I also was able to assist the restoration crews with their work. The hands-on experience allowed an up close and personal experience with the museum’s aircraft, and it provided a new appreciation for each plane. The two most recent additions to the museum are fitting examples. These are the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon or Viper. Both of these aircraft were received by truck in pieces from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. They were re-assembled, sanded down, and then painted outdoors in just six weeks in order to get them ready for the open house. The final touches included placing a full complement of air-to-air missiles and fuel tanks on each plane – the only planes at the museum to feature missiles. Because the museum does not have the same loading equipment as the Air Force (yet), a contrived method had to be arranged in order to accomplish the task. This was done as safely as possible, but it did feature an awful lot of muscle and elbow grease on the part of the restorers. An easy task it was not, but an appreciation for what the Air Force’s armorers do was certainly gained.
While I worked at the museum, I was also enrolled in a Summer course at the university. The subject of the course was Air Power Studies, so the surroundings at the museum provided plenty of motivation to stay on task. A distinct line was drawn between my internship duties and those of my class, so there was no “double-dealing”, but the close proximity of the subjects of my Air Power Studies course, like the B-29 and Mig-15, provided plenty of impetus to keep on reading when not on the job. The internship and my class nicely dovetailed each in a way I have not experienced before.
Overall, I feel I performed excellently while interning at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum. The internship I chose was for six credit hours, which meant that I had to work a minimum of 252 hours over the summer. I have now completed 267 hours as of today. Based on my performance over the summer, I would grade myself as “excellent” based on my performance, motivation, and output while at the museum. I am sure that my supervisor will concur.