Richard Perks – Conservation volunteer

What I do

As an engineering volunteer, I tend to work on various aircraft in Hangar 3, the war planes hangar. Working alongside a fellow volunteer, for my first project I undertook a full airframe inspection of the Fiesler Storch, captured towards the end of the Second World War. Over three months we noted its defects, rectified what we could, and reported those that needed more specialist attention. The work varied from treating surface corrosion and repairing minor fabric damage to re-fitting loose fixtures and freeing up the flying control mechanisms. The most complex job was re-commissioning the landing flaps; this necessitated the removal of the control assembly, the re-manufacturing of a missing linkage, then re-assembly and adjustment. The result is that the aeroplane is now clean, all flying controls are operational for the first time in many years, everything is secure, and a couple of bigger issues have been logged with the museum’s engineering management for further work.

What I love

I have to say that coming into Cosford is one of the highlights of my week. The engineering guys are a great bunch and it’s a pleasure to work with them. The banter and camaraderie remind me of my working life. Plus there is a really professional approach to conserving some old, valuable and, in some cases, unique aeroplanes for future generations to enjoy. Finishing a project gives me a real feeling of achievement.

What I get

The chance to return to my career-roots. My working life began in aerospace manufacturing, followed by working for an airline, but after a few job changes I drifted out of the industry. Following early retirement, this seemed an ideal time to return to something I had long been fascinated by. My father was a member of the Royal Observer Corps and would recount stories from his youth of the Battle of Britain, the Second World War and the Cold War. During the 80s I became involved in a team restoring a Spitfire to flying condition and I organised a couple of small airshows, but as time went by, I became an “armchair” enthusiast. Joining the volunteer team at Cosford has enabled me to get back to being hands on.