Time to feature another aircraft in the collection! This one was an experimental craft built by a University of Alaska engineering student to fly home to Spruce Creek, AK.
The “Bakeng Duce” nicknamed the "Duce II" was built by Preston Fowler in 1974. Fowler, from Shaw Creek, AK, was a mechanical engineering student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and built the experimental craft with the assistance of Engineering Professor Ken Hobson. Hobson had previously built aircraft for Hawken Aircraft Ltd.
The craft was built in the garage of the Duckering Building, the engineering building on UAF campus, and cost about $2000 to construct. Most of the plane is made from previously used parts, however, the metal tubing and Sitka spruce for the wings were new. The craft passed FAA inspection, given the number N75FD, and her maiden flight was on September 27, 1976.
Kirsten here again, this time introducing the 1943 Noorduyn Norseman. This aircraft is front and center at the Museum and had quite an adventurous life, and a well deserved retirement here at the Pioneer Air Museum, if I do say so myself.
The Norseman housed at the Pioneer Air Museum is a Model Noorduym Norseman UC-64AS, built in 1943 by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd. of Canada. These planes were introduced in 1935 and designed as a single engine bush plane; interchangeably fitted with wheels, skis, and floats for landing on a multitude of terrain types. It had a high wing monoplane airframe to facilitate loading and unloading passengers and cargo. During World War II, it caught the interest of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the United States Army Air Force because of its abilities in rough and rugged Northern environments.
The model plane at PAM would have been the kind flown for Lend Lease Program of WWII as a search and rescue or utility plane. This particular aircraft flew for many airline companies, including Island Airways, Inc. (1946-1948) and Alaska Airlines (1956-1961). In 1192, Doug Solberg of Juneau, AK gave the Norseman to the museum. The plane had been refurbished in Washington State and flown up to Fairbanks, where it now sits center stage in the museum.
This summer we hired Ashley Nicole (Nikki) Lorenzen as our intern to process our archival collections, and she went well above and beyond! We asked her to answer a few questions about her experience so far.
1. What is your background?
I am originally from a small(ish) town in Northern California. After high school I went to a jr. college where I took an elective anthropology class and fell in love. From there I went on to get my undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte before getting my Masters in Museum Studies from George Washington University.
2. What got you interested in museum work?
I was actually drawn to museum work almost on accident. I guess I always knew that museums didn't just run themselves but if a museum is running smoothly how they operate isn't really the primary concern of its visitors. I just never crossed my mind that I could be one of those people until I started looking into graduate degree programs. Although I was initially accepted to GWU to continue on in anthropology with only a concentration in museum studies it became clear after a few courses that museum studies was the direction I wanted to go in and once I changed majors I never looked back.
3. What brought you to the Pioneer Air Museum?
I made my way to the Pioneer Air Museum with a good deal of luck, I think. After applying for the state museum internship program for many years unsuccessfully I was once again disappointed to find out that I hadn't been accepted this year either. So imagine my surprise when an Alaskan phone number was calling me out of the blue. As it turns out my name was given to the PAM curator as a possible candidate for an internship here. The phone rang, I said yes, and the rest is history.
4. What is your favorite thing about Alaska so far?
My favorite thing about Alaska so far has been a tie between the people and the food. Everyone I've met has been so nice and friendly and overall just really willing to help out in whatever way possible. And the food is great! Although I've lived on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts before Alaskan fish is better! Plus I get to try things like caribou and yak.
5. What do you think of the Pioneer Air Museum?
I think the Pioneer Air Museum has a unique perspective on aviation and has a great deal to offer the community at large. All of the pieces are here and with some work and a few more interns it'll be even better.
6. What project are you working on?
So far I am working on inventorying and cataloging the archival (photographs, letters, documents, etc) collection and inputting the information into the museum's database.
7. What is the most interesting thing you’ve found in the archives?
One of the most interesting things I've found so far was a file containing newspaper articles about a shoe. Although I don't read every piece of paper or article I find, something about this story stuck out to me. For one thing it seemed odd to me that we would even have anything relating to a shoe in an aviation museum. Well as I read on it turned out that the shoe came from the wife of an Alaskan pilot. While on their honeymoon their plane crashed, both survived with only minor injuries, and the pair had to walk over 12 miles of glacier to the nearest town to get help. The shoes the woman was wearing withstood the abuse fairly well with only their heels being worn to a sharp point. When I mentioned the article to Della, the collections manager, she became very excited and asked a lot of questions before heading off toward the entrance to the museum. It turns out we have a shoe on display that matches the description of the shoe from the article but no one knew where the shoe came from or what its story was. It was a very exciting moment to have been able to solve a mystery for the museum and one that almost didn't happen. It's moments like that which make museum work so interesting.
8. What are your plans for the summer in Alaska?
When I'm not at work I hope to spend my time exploring Alaska as much as I can. Which is admittedly difficult on a bicycle. However my boyfriend is coming for a visit next month and we plan on visiting Seward and Denali while he's here. I'd really like to see a moose but so far I've had no such luck. Fingers are crossed, though!
9. What advice would you give someone looking to do an internship in museums?
For anyone who thinks they'd like to get into the museum field I'd say definitely try. Volunteer with museums whenever possible, though time and finances can make that difficult, and learn as much as you can about the different aspects of museum work. There are so many museums out there who need any help you can give and volunteering is one way to do it. It can also lead to an internship if that's more what you're interested in. As for internships, ask. Often people are willing to take on interns if you simply ask them. Or look online and apply for internships with the museums you're most interested in. Just remember that most internships are not paid so you'll need to have some way to cover expenses on your own. Otherwise it's a great way to gain experience and break into the museum field from the inside. There are degrees available as well to continue your museum education. There is always something new to learn. Museums aren't just about what's on display; there are records to maintain, props to fabricate, exhibits to design, labels to be written, educational programs to create and teach, conservation work to preserve specimens and objects, the list is endless. Museums are a great place to work and learn and if you're interested contact your local museum professionals for ways you can get involved.
Like many museums, the Pioneer Air Museum has a history of collecting objects without the best possible record keeping. Museums, historically, have been formed this way - from one person's collection, turning into a collection from friends and connections. Looking to the future of the Pioneer Air Museum, we know that this practice can no longer go on. The museum has taken several steps moving towards museum best practices, including hiring a summer intern every year since 2012, and having two consultations by professionals from the Alaska State Museum and the Alaska State Archives. The most recent of these endeavors was a consultation by Dean Dawson, Alaska State Archivist.
Mr. Dawson spent three days in April with myself and our curator, Pete Haggland, inventorying and organizing our paper collections. Most of our paper collections were located in one area, our old theater. The old theater contained 20 chairs bolted to the ground and had been used for storage for the last several years. Mr. Dawson and I created a clean workspace of several tables and began pulling out boxes to process. The goal was to gain what is called "intellectual control" over our collections - essentially, we wanted to know what we have! We processed the entire theater space, including four shelving units and a safe. What we found included books, manuals, paper collections, institutional records, photographs, slides, and objects. At the end of three days, we had an inventory of 53 boxes, as well as some over sized items such as maps, posters, and blueprints. We are very grateful for the help of Mr. Dawson, whose expertise in this area has started us on the path to archival processing that will create better access to these records for the public.
The following Saturday, April 26th, we had 17 volunteers from our membership, the Eielson Air Force Base, as well as the AMT school help us to clear the theater space out, removing the chairs, some shelving, and the difficult to move safe. They set up shelving units that now house the organized and inventoried boxes of archival collections. Without the help of our members and volunteers, we would not be able to accomplish much of the museum's mission, and we are thankful for their efforts!
Where do we go from here?
The next step in processing these collections is an inventory and cataloging of the contents of each box. We have hired an intern for this summer, who will be working with me on cataloging the paper collections, as well as continuing to process our object collections. There is still a lot to be done at the Pioneer Air Museum, but we are proud of how far we've come in just the last few years!
If you are interested in becoming involved with the Pioneer Air Museum, either as a member or a volunteer, we are always grateful for your help! Projects include restoration of our historic airplanes, inventorying the collections, public and children's programming, and event staffing. Please contact us if you are interested!
The Pioneer Air Museum is full of fascinating history, objects, and paper collections that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. As the Collections Manager, I am constantly finding unusual and exciting artifacts that I would like to share with the public. Through this blog, I would like to share with you some of these interesting objects and stories, as well as the stories of the people behind the history of Alaskan aviation. We would like to encourage an open dialogue, so any comments or questions are welcome!
This blog will be feature articles primarily generated by me, Della Hall, Collections Manager. Other contributors will be credited at the beginning of the article.
This blog and website is maintained by museum volunteers and staff.