Bird Museum Volunteers
Bird Aviation Museum
Museum Volunteers

Museum Volunteers

Do you have extra time on your hands? Would you like to become a volunteer at the Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center? Please click on the following link to download a printable volunteer information form and mail it back to the Museum at Post Office Box 817. Sandpoint, Idaho 83864. Thank you!

Volunteer Information Form

New Volunteers:
  • Kip Adams
  • Danny Alfson
  • Beth Brubaker Alfson
  • Walter "Buck" Bender
  • George Brayden
  • Dave Coppom
  • Gordon Grover
  • Todd Moore
  • Larry Pearcy
  • Shane Rogers
  • Dick Rutan
  • Ross Welburn

Blake Alfson

I am a High School student at Lakeland High School and I am on the Student Board of Directors for the National Gallery for America's Young Inventors, I have a 4.0 GPA, and I won two Gold Medals and made it to the finals at the World Championships for Performing Arts.

Currently in school, I participate in the FRC and I am working towards valedictorian of my class and I am planning to go to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. For extracurricular activities, I currently am on the First Robotics Competition (FRC) team through our school and this is where you learn how to design and to actually build a working robot to solve an annually assigned challenge and demonstrate their solution in a competition. I am also beta testing a new competition for MIT called ZERO, I am practicing fencing on my own (our group got the boot from its old place last year), volunteering at a local chess club, and I am on the Scholastic Bowl team for my school. Overall, I keep very busy and in my spare time some of my hobbies are reading and doing Sudoko. I occasionally play video games, mainly puzzle or strategy games.

A life experience that tops my charts so far is attending Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and that is where “I learned to think, discuss, question and analyze, combine knowledge with goodness and acquire the intellectual skills that ensure a love of learning and a lifelong commitment to helping others.”

As far as the most memorable event, that would be 9/11 because that is the only major historical event that I have lived through. I enjoy volunteering at the Museum because of the knowledge contained and coupled with the amazing people who already work here, it is a great experience.

Chales Ballo

Charles Ballo

I moved to the Sandpoint area after retiring from accounting in Florida.  I am a recreational pilot with a Cessna 175 and stay involved in the aviation world by belonging to the Quiet Birdmen, Experimental  Aircraft  Association and as treasurer for the Friends of the Sandpoint Airport.  I served my country in the U.S. Army Security Agency, finance department.

I believe that we should all do good to family and friends.

Volunteering at the Bird Aviation Museum & Invention Center affords me the opportunity to help the youth of today fulfill their dreams.

Barb Branson

Barbara “Barb” Branson

My husband and I have been residents of Martin Bay since 2000.  I also retired that year from the St. Paul Insurance Co. as a commercial insurance technician after 18 years.  We have two sons and two grandsons, the youngest of which is serving in the U.S. Army at Ft. Bliss, Texas.

I enjoy sewing, reading and fishing.  I am on the board of the Gamlin Lake Cemetery Association serving as Secretary/Treasurer.  I also teach Sunday school at the Church in the Wildwood and am the Secretary for the Emerald Beach Homeowners Cooperative Association.  As if that doesn’t keep me busy enough, I work full time at Percussionaire Corporation.  I believe in the respirators that we make and the good that they do for people.

Words that I have always found comfort in are paraphrased from the Bible,”God is faithful in all things.”

For me the most memorable historic event was when Israel became an independent nation in 1948.  I believe that God’s clock began to tick again and we are in the days of the events in the book of Revelations.

I love to travel with my husband Al and I want to go deep sea fishing.      Back to Top 

Mark M. Collins

I am a private pilot of 15 years and I divide my time between the Bay Area and Coeur d’Alene.  I successfully launched and ran a medical information/software company.  My wife is an award winning novelist and together we raised three wonderful children.

My favorite response to the myriad events life throws my way, be it success or failure, is “It was God”, from Genesis 45:8.

The event with the most impact on my life is the financial crisis of 2008-2009 because it impacted my entire plan for retirement and professional pursuits.

I volunteer at the Bird Aviation Museum & Invention Center because I love aviation and Dr. Bird is such an inspiration.  It is important to me to be able to give to something that I believe in, the Museum and associated programs are doing so much for people.      Back to Top 

Jan Lee

Jan Lee

I graduated from North Olmstead High School in 1970 and then went onto Iowa State and Pellissippi State with a degree in Marketing. Throughout my life I have had many experiences from over 20 years of automotive service to 6 years of electronic automotive tool development and product management to 5 years of day trading to currently the owner of Sandpoint Inspection.  I am an experience home inspector that provides a visual inspection to a home, while calling attention potential problems that are easily overlooked by the untrained eye.

Some of my hobbies other than flying are mountain biking, snowboarding, and I am the President of the local Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1441 here in Sandpoint. “EAA is a growing and diverse organization of members with a wide range of aviation interests and backgrounds. EAA was founded in 1953 by a group of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were interested in building their own airplanes. Through the decades, the organization expanded its mission to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicoptors and contemporary manufactured aircraft.”

My wife Paula and I have raised our sons and we are both pilots living in the North Idaho area.      Back to Top 

Gary Mladjan

Gary Mladjan

President and CEO of Bright Flash Development Inc. and Primary System
Architect for the "Idaho Project" which is:
"An Alternate Method for Underground Mining"

Bright Flash Development Inc is a company with a cadre of highly skilled mechanical and opto-mechanical engineers, physicists, metallurgists, electronics engineers, geologists and environmentalists bringing the various technologies from the defense and commercial world into the mining arena.

Mr. Mladjan is the primary holder of 7 US Patents, shared holder of 7 other patents along with concurrent International Patents involving the Thermal Weapon Sight and Land Warrior programs, circa 1990's as well as numerous unprocessed applications.

Author of Design Manuals and Fabrication process papers.

He has been a designated "Corporate Expert" on Investment Castings, Al/Be Castings and Machining, General Machining as well as Single Point Diamond Turning and Composite Mirrors.

Present goals are to keep inventing systems for any industry that needs fresh new ideas.

Specialties: Opto/Mechanical Design- Castings-Precision Machining- Molded Parts- Exotic materials and System Configurations. (see recommendations on

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Ron Nova

Ron Nova

I started flying just out of High School, enrolled in the flight program at Moses Lake Community College, and achieved an SES rating with Kenmore Air.  My wife and I have owned 5 different aircraft over the years and enjoyed many years of travel by air, land and sea.   

I am currently a sales associate for Evergreen Realty in Sandpoint, ID.  I also have over 30 years of progressively responsible experience in the recreation resort industry.  I have a background in strategic and tactical sales and operational procedures with demonstrated achievement in project management from initial resort concept design to construction with detailed follow-through.  My past employment experience includes working for Playground at Winter Park CO, Harbor Resorts (which included Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge), Mount Ashland, and Hyak, presently Snoqualmie East.  

I enjoy spending time with my spouse, Bernadette, and daughters, Courtney (23) and Chelsea (20).  We enjoy skiing, flying, boating, biking, and travel.  Courtney is currently managing internet and phone sales for Evogear in Seattle, WA and Chelsea is currently enrolled in Central Oregon Community College and is also active in the technical disciplines of alpine racing representing MBSEF. 

I served on the Bonner County Airport Advisory Board (BCAAB), past Board Member of the Panhandle Alliance for Education (PAFE), the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce, the Bonner County Economic Development Corporation (BCEDC), Selkirk Lodge (condominium) Homeowners Association, the White Pine Lodge (condominium) Homeowners Association, and the Schweitzer Mountain Community Association (SMCA), and past chairman of the Sandpoint Air Service Committee (SASC) which established scheduled air service in Sandpoint.      Back to Top 

Paul Nowaske

Paul Nowaske

I was born in Detroit, Michigan in September, 1942.  I attended grade school and high school in the Detroit area, graduating from Notre Dame High School in June, 1960.

After attending a Detroit area community college for two years, I entered the United States Air Force in the summer of 1962 where I spent four years as an aircraft electrician at bases in Europe and the Continental US.

Upon discharge from the Air Force in 1966, I went to work for The Flying Tiger Line in Los Angeles, California.  There I moved through the aircraft technician ranks and into management ultimately becoming Manager of Maintenance Control, responsible for tracking and maintaining a domestic and international fleet of Boeing and McDonald Douglas jet aircraft.

With the merger of Flying Tigers and Federal Express in August 1989, I accepted the position of Senior Manager, LAX Maintenance Support Shops, a group consisting of ten managers and roughly 200 technicians in structures, welding, machine, engine, hydraulics, composites and avionics skills.  This skill group was responsible for the technical health of the 747 and DC10 aircraft that visited LAX for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.

After three years as a Senior Manager in aircraft maintenance for FedEx, 26 years in Southern California and a desire to rekindle my love of a four season lifestyle, I chose a new career path.   A Federal Express courier position opened up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho a year after I had purchased, what I had hoped to be, my future retirement home in Dover, Idaho.  In the fall of 1992 I started a two year career as a courier covering most areas of the Idaho Panhandle.  

The summer of 1994 found me itching to play with airplanes again (as a technician, not a manager).   July that year I returned to my home in Southern California and picked up my career as an avionics technician with FedEx ultimately retiring back to Dover, Idaho at the end of 2002.

As one who did little volunteering during my working years, I have changed course completely as a retiree.  I’m currently a member of two Dover commissions - Planning and Zoning where I sit as chair and Urban Renewal.
 My former wife and I raised four children in Southern California.  Those four children have, in turn, provided us with seven grandchildren ranging in age from 4 years to 19 years – three in California, three in Ohio and one in Minnesota.  Like my father before me, I am a road warrior and thoroughly enjoy the travel needed to see all of them.

The spring, summer and autumn months finds me on the golf course as often as possible.  Biking the many paths around Bonner county also takes up much of my time during those months.  When the snow flies and my right knee cooperates, I find carving turns at Schweitzer exhilarating.  When the knee doesn’t work, snowshoeing is a great back-up sport.   I find working with house plants(the inside of my house could be considered a carbon sink) and landscaping projects rewarding and relaxing hobbies.      Back to Top 

Sol Pusey

Solomon “Sol” Pusey

I was born in West Grove, Pennsylvania in 1943. I completed my high school education at Valley Forge Military academy in Wayne, Pennsylvania. From 1961-1962, I received my Eagle Scout Award (highest award in boy scouting and received upon completion of merit badges, leadership activities and have respect for one self and others) as well as serving on the staff at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. After high school graduation and time with the Boy Scouts of America, I went to Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina and then onto Lincoln University and the USC school of accident Investigation.  During this time, I met my wife Darleen and we were best friends for 43 years and married 39 of those years and together we had a son, David.

I am a pilot and completed my flight training education at American Flyers in Ardmore, Oklahoma and over time have received at ATR and single engine sea. Some of the planes that I have piloted are the Boeing 747, DC8, MD11 and the MD10. For many years I was employed by the Flying Tiger Line and Federal Express where I used my qualifications.

Currently, I reside in Sagle, Idaho.      Back to Top 

Willis F (Buzz) Sherman Jr

I began my career in the military as an aircraft commander KC-135 in the United States Air Force for 5 years. I am a pilot and have been since 1965 (40 + years) and hold certification for ATP, CFI CFI-I CFI-ME, FE. I am able to fly Boeing (B) B747 B757/767 B737-200 B707 B727 and currently the Mooney 201.

As a young adult I received my bachelors’ degree in Business, became a Private Pilot (400 hours) in college, and retired from United Airlines after 28 years and 3 children later. Something I have learned to live by is “treat others as you would like to be treated.”

A historical event that is most memorable to me is the death of President Kennedy which was the start of numerous events that would seem impossible before they happened. Life is short and every turn unexpected, so every person should daily try to do something to improve it.

While I volunteer here at the Bird Museum, they make me feel like I am at home and my efforts would be appreciated. I feel lucky to be associated with people with the quality and compassion of the Birds.
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Todd Sudick

Todd Sudick

My flying career started in 1964 at the age of 17. I majored in Aeronautics at Utah State University, which included 2 years of A&P school. During college I was in the Navy AVROC program and thus was an active Reservist. In that capacity I crewed on P2V-7s, worked on A-3s and was an A-4 plane Captain. After College I joined the Marine Corps as a pilot and served 22 years, Active and Reserve. In the Marines I flew the T-34B, T-2C, TA-4J, KC-130F, C-117D, CH-46 and CH-53. After getting off active duty in 1976 I was hired by Trans International Airlines where I flew the L-382-30, DC-10 and DC-8-63/73 for nine years. In 1986 I went to work for PSA, which was bought by US Airways in 1988. There I flew the BAE-146, B-737, DC-9-30 and the A320 series of aircraft. I retired as a Captain from US Airways in 2007. My ratings include: ATP Airplane Multiengine Land-Type: L-382, B-737, DC-9 and A-320. My other ratings are Commercial: Airplane Single Engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter; Instrument Helicopter-Flight instructor: Single Engine/Multiengine land, Instrument. I have logged 27,000 hours of flying in 86 countries and territories worldwide and 2014 marks 50 years as a pilot. I currently serve on the Priest River Airport Board for the County. My love for aviation is what motivates my volunteer work at the Bird Museum.

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Bob Weir

Robert "Bob" Weir

• Former respiratory therapist
• Met Dr. Forrest Bird for the first time in the mid 1970s at a Bird Products distributor in Southern California.
• Moved to the Sandpoint area in 2011 after driving over the Long Bridge for the first time.
• Currently working as an accreditation surveyor - inspecting Medicare Homecare Providers throughout the country.
• Part time musician and restorer of antique cars
• Single with two grown children (out of state) and 5 grandchildren
• Even though the volunteers/docents work in all area of the museum, I feel a kinship to the respiratory section of the museum. I enjoy telling the story of the evolution of the respiratory therapy field and the contributions, innovations and inventions made by Dr. Bird for this industry.
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Volunteers Emeritus

Bird Aviation Museum and Invention Center
2678 W. Cessna Avenue. Hayden, Idaho 83835