Hello Vancouver!  Joe Morse reporting from Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. This week I present to you my eighth Service Spotlight, where I interview a volunteer from one of our sites to get a better sense of what they bring to our volunteer program, and any other cool tidbits about them.

This January I had the opportunity to interview Mike Daly.  Mike is a handy volunteer, having spent much of his efforts building our historic jail, furniture in our counting house, and some of the model and full size replica airplanes displayed our historic hangar  at Pearson Air Museum. These days, you can mainly find him and his other co-volunteers at our 405 building, working on a large scale project to complete a replica of a full-size Curtiss Pusher bi-plane.  Their work requires much skill and dedication and is essential to our operations at Pearson Air Museum.


Here’s the transcript of my interview with Mike:

How long have you been volunteering at Fort Vancouver?

Off and on for about 15 years. Shortly after my retirement, I became involved with the reconstruction of the Fort Jail, next was some furniture building for the newly constructed counting house.

What do you typically do as a volunteer?

For the last couple of years I’ve been volunteering at the Pearson Air Museum This started as a conversation between myself and Bob Cromwell about how to represent the historical story of Pearson.  We began by building a 1/6 scale model of a JN 4 Jenny aircraft, representing a period shortly after WW 1 when the army had a squadron stationed here. Next, we stepped back to 1910, and built another 1/6 scale model, a Curtiss Pusher bi plane representing a flight which took place from Portland to Pearson. From that grew the current project underway, a full scale representation of that aircraft.

What do your other fellow volunteers do with respect to work on the airplanes?

We all gravitate towards different aspects of airplane building. Sanding, carpentry, sewing, casting, pattern making, etc.

Are you all engineers by trade?

Some have engineering backgrounds, but most of us mainly have crafting skills. A lot of our work starts in our personal shops/garages.

How did you come to be a volunteer at Fort Vancouver?

My wife and daughter encouraged me to start volunteering here.

What keeps you volunteering?

Comradery, involvement, sense of accomplishment, handwork. Also the sense of completion. Our project is not finished. We’ve invested a lot of work in this project and would like to see it through to completion.

What the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how do you overcome that?

I don’t see a lot of challenges. Most of our resource requests have been granted. Just general personal spare time and money issues. Also because of our construction location, we lack the opportunity to show visitors the progress of our work.

What’s one thing you’d like to tell people who come to Pearson air Museum?

Just the historical aspect of aviation, and how it evolved from it’s early origins to present times.

Any cool facts about yourself that people should know?

No cool facts. I have interests. I fly fish, I sail, I used fly, ski, and I built a sailing dinghy once.


That’s a wrap! Come visit us at the Pearson Air Museum to see the beautiful replica airplanes our volunteers built and to learn about early U.S. aviation history.  And stay tuned for next month’s March Spotlight.