Each summer, we welcome students of engineering from across Europe. Belgian student, Katleen Verhoeven spent some time with the Museum in the summer of 2011. We caught up with her in 2019, seven years later to find out how her career had progressed. Here’s what Katleen told us:
As far as I can remember I was passionate about everything that was able to fly, from planes to rockets and even hot air balloons, but more precise the classical, old aircrafts. So the most logical step for me was to pursue a career in aviation. I started Aviation Technology at the College of Ostend in 2011 and got a major in Aviation technology. These were the years I really got a good understanding of how airplanes were designed, build and how to do their maintenance.
The latter spoke to me the most so when it came to choosing an internship, I mailed all possible aircraft museums I could find and/or think of in the neighbouring countries. Only one replied with a yes, the Yorkshire air museum. So I packed my bags, hopped on a boat and came to Yorkshire at the beginning of February 2014 for my 7 week internship.
On my first day I was welcomed by all the staff and volunteers of the day. I only felt joy and right at home between all those old aircrafts. I got to work on various aircrafts from the iconic Dakota, on which I worked the most, to the Devon, Gannet and the Kitten. Also helped with the cleaning and moving of some of the aircrafts. The two high points of my stay were seeing the Dakota run after all the work I have put into it, and being interviewed by the local newspaper
After my graduation in June that year, I took all these experiences with me, when searching for a job. I found one in the Belgian Air Force as an Avionics and Wiring Technician on all types of aircraft like the F-16, C-130 and even our new NH-90 Helicopter. I maintain all kinds of avionics boxes and fixing wiring problems on site. Occasionally I get to do things outside my normal day to day job. Lately I had the opportunity to fly with one of our NH-90 helicopters, because some in flight tests had to be done. This is really my dream job, working with aircraft parts on a daily basis and the occasional mission in the field.
If I could have chosen another internship, would I pick another? No I would not. This was an experience of a lifetime. I would like to thank all the staff and volunteers like Grant Sparks, Andre Tempest, Brian Watmough and so many more who took me under their wings for those 7 weeks.