Taking The Initiative – London volunteer Joseph Cheung about his work with the Aircraft Team.
Could you please explain your role as a Volunteer at our London Museum?
I am a member of the Aircraft Team. It is made up of volunteers and we can do a number of tasks. These can range from clean
ing aircraft to more complex jobs. I have an aerospace background through my University studies. My long-term goal is to be a licensed aircraft engineer. Volunteering gives me the skills and experience to work on aircraft.
What sort of things do you do with the exhibits?
Recently I have worked on a project with the Halifax bomber. The basic work was to remove corrosion. During the aircraft’s recovery in the Seventies, a lot of anti corrosion material was put in it but this is not used today. We needed to remove these substances and replace them with modern ones.
There has been a lot of discussion on the team about the best way to show the public what is being done to make the aircraft look better.
What new skills have you learnt by volunteering at the RAF Museum?
I have learnt skills in two areas. When I initially joined, I explained my career plans. I was fortunate that the Museum offered me the chance to participate in the National Aviation Skills Initiative. Pete Nash signed me up to it. A lot of techniques from the past link into the future, for example carbon fibre technologies link to techniques used in earlier types of aircraft engineering. Earlier engineers used things like laminated wood. Today, laminated composite materials work in the same way but use different bonding agents.
I have learnt new skills in another way too. I worked on the restoration of a Trolley Accumulator. The project was more specifically a subject for the Vehicles Team but I am from the Aircraft Team. A lot of information was shared. I have learnt to communicate a lot better with other volunteers and how to manage a mini project.
What are the best things about being a volunteer?
There is a mixture of things. I like the exclusivity of the volunteer. You can gain insights into the work of Curators and other experts. You can only do that by gaining their trust as a volunteer.
I also like the interesting challenges that I put myself in. I am becoming a lot more open and communicative with people. Also, it is very satisfying to help the public. I am also a volunteer on HMS Belfast.
Are there any projects you would like to work on next?
I am interested in the idea of managing a larger project after the Trolley Accumulator. I have an area in mind but I would need to discuss it first!