Finding a place where passion takes flight

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Ingenium - Canada's Museums of Science and Innovation
Terrie Pereira is all smiles after her first solo flight.

In honour of National Volunteer Week – April 15 to 21 – Ingenium is putting the spotlight on just a few of its invaluable volunteers. In today’s profile, the Channel highlights Terrie Pereira – who talks about her volunteer work with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in her own words.

By Terrie Pereira

I started volunteering with the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in the summer of 2013. Around the same time, I was taking up flying lessons again at the Rockliffe Flying Club, after taking a year off from flying as the flying school in Gatineau where I first took lessons had closed.

Flying is something that I always had wanted to try – ever since I was five years old – but never dared to allow myself to dream of actually doing. No one in my family has any kind of aviation background, by the way. So, at the end of summer in 2011, I signed up for ground school and started classes that fall. I did the theoretical and practical exams to acquire my student pilot license, with the objective of obtaining the Private Pilot License (commonly known as PPL).

I will admit that my first flight on the Cessna 152 with the instructor was actually quite scary. But being scared did not last. I developed quite the taste for the skies; I felt excitement each time I flew. Flying is exhilarating and beautiful, and this is especially so after one’s first solo flight. No one who has taken flying lessons ever forgets their solo. Being up at a few thousand feet from the ground makes me so happy; only those who share the same passion can appreciate how much happiness it brings. It’s like being a kid again and obsessed with toys – except the toys are a lot bigger and the investment is a lot more expensive!

Terrie Pereira

Terrie Pereira and her children at the Gatineau-Ottawa Air Show in 2013.

The reason I volunteer at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum is that I wanted to have a place to connect with others who share the same appreciation for aviation and flying. I never thought I would like volunteering as much as I do. Each time I enter the building, I actually get excited to walk into the hangar and see all those aircrafts sitting there with so many untold stories. From my encounters with other volunteers, I’ve had the chance to hear some of the stories related to some of the aircrafts at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. I feel humbled each time I have the privilege to spend time with some of the other volunteers who generously and happily give their time to share their knowledge.

I have spoken about the volunteers but I also want to speak about the employees. It’s an honour to be working alongside museum employees as much as it is alongside the volunteers. They are always happy and welcoming, and also very knowledgeable about their work. I may not know all of them very well, but I do know one very well from the beginning of my experience as a volunteer; his name is Cédric and he’s the volunteer coordinator. Cédric does an amazing job as volunteer coordinator; he happens to be one of these people that everyone I know truly appreciates.

With respect to my experience with the visitors of the museum, I believe I have come across hundreds – if not thousands – of people over the past few years. My favourite volunteer event day at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum is Canada Day, which happens to be the museum’s busiest day. I can’t explain specifically why but there’s such a positive energy during Canada Day that makes me want to return and do it again each year. Everyone seems to be in such a festive, proud-to-be-Canadian and celebratory mood that it’s hard not to like working there working as a volunteer.

I would like to conclude my story by adding that one of the other reasons I also love to volunteer at the museum is that it gives me the opportunity to show my children how rewarding it can be to volunteer in such an amazing place. I see it not only as an opportunity to do something I find fun to do, but also to show my children that giving back to the community – and being a part of something greater than ourselves – can be extremely rewarding.

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Sonia Mendes

Sonia Mendes is the English Writer/Editor for Ingenium. She loves digging behind the scenes to tell the quirky, colourful stories of museum life and all things related to science and innovation.