Volunteer Profile: Meet Danielle

Danielle McGowan is one of our fantastic volunteers at the museum. She is new to Alaska, but not to aviation! We’re so fortunate to have her as part of our crew. Keep reading to read a little more about Danielle and what she helps out with here at the museum.

About Danielle:
Danielle is new to Alaska since May 2020, works as a flight instructor, and claims to be perpetually cold.

How did you get interested in the museum?
I moved to Fairbanks to work for Proflite of Alaska as a flight instructor. My first friend in Alaska was my neighbor, Rita Butteri, PAM’s Collections Manager, who told me all about the museum and offered to show me around. She got me interested to volunteer. 

What kind of volunteer work do you do here at the museum?
I do a variety of tasks directed by our Collections Manager, Rita always keeps me on my toes!

What do you enjoy most about the museum?
There’s something so natural and authentic about the collection, it pays homage to aviation as much as it does to Alaska’s history. The greatest nuance I’ve noticed in the aviation industry here in Alaska is that flying doesn’t only appeal to a segregated group of professionals like it does in the lower 48. I suppose because there are so many places within this state that are inaccessible by other means of transportation, or maybe because flying here is like a dreamscape of glacial heavens? Either way, it’s evident that aviation is ingrained in the culture and appreciated by pilots and non-pilots alike. 

My favorite part of volunteering here is the community that keeps something so unique alive; everyone from mechanics, to pilots, to air traffic controllers, to business owners, to students, etc.

Do you have a favorite object here in the museum? What about it appeals to you?
I love to read the memoirs and letters from early Alaskan aviators. They illustrate a special breed of courage, ingenuity and jaunty. The narratives always seem to inspire my own aviation aspirations and explorations. Whether it’s a referenced ghost town I want to fly in to or a plane I want to research. 

I had been jotting quotes down from some of the letters in a journal I keep, one of which I still think about when I have a long, draining day of flight instruction/student pilot hazards that read, Quote: “I doubt I could ever be satisfied with an ordinary job again…it’s thrilling to put it very lightly.”
Of course as I was looking up this passage to reference I found this one, Quote: “But don’t think I haven’t had the living daylights scared out of me more than just a couple times. I have half the hair on my head I came up here with.”

Thanks, Danielle, for sharing your time and talents with us!

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