John “Jack” Barry is a volunteer at the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire at the Manchester Airport. Since September 2019, he has led students from the Manchester School of Technology in a project to build an airplane.
Jack has flown around the world throughout his career and got his start at age 11, building and flying string-controlled, gas-powered, model airplanes. Now Jack is in his 70s and sharing his time, effort, and knowledge with others. From training students to inspecting work and coordinating volunteer mentors, Jack is using his lifetime of experience in aviation to teach and inspire the younger generation.
Jack received the Outstanding Volunteer Service Award in the Senior category at the 2020 Spirit of NH Awards. Watch his video here, and scroll down to learn more about his experience.
Interview with Jack Barry
What is an example of an experience you’ve had while volunteering that really impacted you?
What really impacts me is watching the students on the first day of class with nervous looks on their faces. After a few weeks of classes and time in the shop working on building a real flyable plane, they really get into this project. They show up early for class, they want to be there, and see the satisfaction they show when a section of the plane is completed and put on the rack for assembly on the plane.
Why did you initially decide to volunteer with the Aviation Museum of New Hampshire? What roles have you had?
The first museum president and longtime friend, Jack Ferns, asked me to join. My role there is to do what needs to be done. I have washed floors, helped with outreach visits to schools, helped with the various functions held at the museum, built mock-ups, and ran tours.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your volunteer activities?
Covid-19 put a halt on the plane project for a few months. We got together and wrote up a health and testing plan and submitted it to the Manchester Health Department and the superintendent’s office, and it was approved for us to continue our project.
Where do you see this volunteer project making the biggest difference?
I think we have learned a lot of respect for each other’s generation. I see the biggest difference in the students’ parents, especially when I hear them say to their son or daughter, “I cannot believe you are doing this!”
What is your wish for the high schoolers that have gone through this program?
That they remember: “I can do it.”
What’s the most important trait a volunteer in your position should have?
Experience, knowledge, credentials, and a sense of humor.
What do you think would need to happen for you to consider the Manchester School of Technology volunteer project a great success?
Continued support from business, industry, and donors. Without that type of financial support, these types of programs would not happen.
To learn more about the NH Aviation Museum, please visit https://www.nhahs.org/
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