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Life membership for beloved quiet achiever

Life membership for beloved quiet achiever

After more than four decades of service to the Aviation Heritage Museum, beloved volunteer and much respected team member Don Crane has received RAAFA life membership.

Don is quick to admit he has loved volunteering at the museum since migrating to Perth in 1983 with his wife.

“I was 30 something when I joined the museum so I have been around for a while, in fact when I first got involved the founding members were still very much involved,” explains Don, who was born in Essex and now lives in Perth’s northern suburbs, in Padbury.

“I’ve always been interested in aeronautics, and it was my love of aviation that first compelled me to start volunteering at the museum.”

Don explains that he undertook an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic in his younger years and also took flying lessons in Perth, gaining his restricted licence until lessons got a little too expensive to continue.

“Flying with Air Australia out of Jandakot really helped me to better understand how aircraft work and I learnt a lot more about aviation, which has been so useful for my voluntary work,” says Don, who has one son and two granddaughters.

“I volunteer every Thursday and Saturday and I love it.  The museum is a terrific place to volunteer and make friends, plus being involved in all of the restoration work certainly keeps the grey matter healthy and happy,” he laughs.

“If you ask me, it’s no good retiring and watching TV every day, you need to do something worthwhile and you need to believe in what you’re doing.”

Don, who volunteers as a team leader, helps to coordinate the various different aircraft restoration projects that are taking place throughout the year, both at the museum and also at the storage facility the museum has out at Willetton.

“We always have several jobs on the go at the same time, for example we’re currently working on the Hawker Hunter which is in storage and which we are restoring as a team of six,” says Don, whose service extends well beyond restoration work given he was a member of the original Museum Historical Group, which later became the Museum Support Group, which still later became the Museum Branch in about 2009. 

“We all work together so well, we have different backgrounds and have different levels of experience in various areas, but we all collaborate and have our own niche areas of expertise.

“At the same time, we don’t take each other all that seriously, we have a good laugh and are very capable of taking the mick out of each other. 

“Having said that, I’m really chuffed to be given life membership, it’s so nice to be thought of so highly and appreciated in this way.”

Break out box

What fellow museum volunteers and members have to say about Don:

“A man who has done so much for the museum over a long time and thus should be in line for a Life Membership.”

“It is very apparent to me that Don’s knowledge and skills are legion, and he has personality and communication ability to disseminate these amongst all participants in projects in which he's involved.  My experience with Don has always been of a willingness to engage when information or cooperation is sought without any 'war stories' to embellish his own merit.”

“I have been a member of various restoration teams since 1988.  I am most impressed with the amount of time Don spends supervising the volunteers, and he himself has such a diversity of skills. 

“Don’s tireless work over many years, along with his management skills as a team leader has endeared him to all his volunteer colleagues as well as Museum Management.”

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