CURRENT JOB: As a quality assurance inspector, I’m responsible for ensuring that the quality of work completed meets the highest standards. Whether it be by verifying references in sign-offs, performing records research, or visually inspecting maintenance performed, my job is helping ensure the safety of our customers and my team to the best of my ability
FIRST AVIATION JOB: My first job in helicopter aviation was with Air Evac Lifeteam as a completion mechanic. I got to learn the aircraft from the ground up while performing overhauls, repairs, upgrades, and modifications to the fleet.
FAVORITE HELICOPTER: AH-1 Cobra
How did you decide helicopter aviation was the career for you?
Helicopters captured my imagination by their method of flight. The idea of flight through the use of various concepts always seemed so fascinating. Being able to better understand the ins and outs of various systems definitely helped guide me toward being a helicopter mechanic over other career choices.
Tell us about your most memorable helicopter ride.
My most memorable helicopter ride was having my first actual stick time, which happened to be in a Vietnam-era Huey. At the time, I thought the PIC was just letting me think I was actually flying, until about the time he told me to turn left and, naturally, I turned right. That’s when I realized I was in control of the Huey.
How did you get to where you are now?
I got to where I am now because I specifically knew I wanted to be a helicopter mechanic. The moment I decided I wanted to, I began saving money to help get me through A&P school; I began searching for potential job opportunities for newly licensed mechanics. Basically, I became as proactive as I could.
After becoming licensed, I accepted a position at Air Evac, where I worked for a few years. I then took another job working on corporate aircraft for Bombardier, but after awhile I realized I missed helicopters, and I took another position with Air Evac as a base mechanic and never looked back.
What are your career goals?
Short term, my main goals are to keep being the best inspector I can be and continue getting good grades in my classes. Currently, I’m enrolled at Tarrant County College with hopes of transferring to the University of Texas at Arlington next fall. There, I plan to acquire a bachelor’s degree in engineering and would like to either move into a management position or transition into an experimental program somewhere. I think it would be amazing to be part of a team that develops a new breakthrough for aviation.
What advice would you give someone pursuing your path?
The two pieces of advice I’d give someone pursuing this path are:
- Network. You can never have too many contacts. There have been several times when a fellow mechanic or manager has been able to help discover the cause of an obscure problem.
- Get started! While the road to getting your license may seem long, the hard work and perseverance are well worth it in the end.
What still excites you about helicopter aviation?
One of the most exciting things about helicopter aviation is how it’s constantly changing. Not only do new engines and airframes come out, but there are also constant upgrades and modifications as well as improved diagnostic tools and system components.
If you couldn’t pursue your current career, what other field would you choose?
If I couldn’t pursue my job, I’d probably want to get a degree in business management. I might not be able to get hands-on with helicopters, but I’d still be a part of it all.
What do you think is the biggest threat to the helicopter industry?
The biggest threat to the helicopter industry is misinformation. When I was in A&P school, we were told that unless we were military, there’d be no chance at ever even touching a helicopter. We were also told that an A&P license wouldn’t cover helicopters. Being told this (by more than a few people) was extremely discouraging, but, fortunately, it simply wasn’t true—if you want to work in helicopter aviation, the opportunities are out there.
Complete this sentence: “I love my job, but I’d rather work for a paper company in Scranton when …
… it’s 110° [Fahrenheit] out, and my helicopter gets stuck in a field because a bat got sucked up into the air intake.” True story!