Kirstie McLean stumbled into the helicopter industry by accident. She had been working in the gift shop of a helicopter tour company in her hometown of Las Vegas, but the more she learned about the industry, the more she wanted to be a part of it. She moved to the maintenance department in 2015 and decided to get her airframe and powerplant (A&P) certification and further her career in aviation maintenance.

McLean is a recipient of Helicopter Foundation International’s 2018 Maintenance Technician Certificate Scholarship. “I first applied for the scholarship to receive some assistance with my student loan,” McLean says. “But my main goal was to get my name out in the helicopter industry, an industry that I have grown to absolutely love.”

McLean is currently enrolled at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) in Las Vegas. She will receive her A&P certification by the end of 2018 and plans to get her inspection authorization once she has met the requirements.

Currently a maintenance program specialist at Sundance Helicopters, McLean has been with the company for six years. She started in the records department and quickly transitioned to the role of maintenance planner before earning her current position. She audits Sundance’s Maintenance Information System to ensure tasks such as service life limit, time between overhaul, operating time limits, airworthiness directives, and service bulletins are tracking correctly.

In addition, she has had the opportunity to write an Approved Aircraft Inspection Program for the AS350 B2. She has worked on all the company’s aircraft, including the AS350 B2, EC130 B4, and EC130 T2 helicopters; and the Cessna 208 Caravan fixed-wing aircraft.

Once she completes her training at AIM, McLean plans to add even more helicopter models to her repertoire. “There are so many helicopter models I have never worked on. Our parent company, Air Methods, has a wide variety of aircraft such as the Bell 206 and the Eurocopter AS365 Dauphin.”

When asked what her advice would be to those just entering the industry, McLean says, “Learn ALL aspects of this industry. Don’t just settle with gaining floor experience. Get involved in the compliance/quality-control side of things, and you will be an asset to any company who hires you. This industry has brought me further than I ever imagined. I’m very excited about where the future will take me.”

Share the Story
Allison McKay

Allison McKay

Allison McKay joined Helicopter Foundation International as vice president in 2015, where she focuses on programs that create a sustainable workforce, improve helicopter safety, and preserve industry history. Allison worked in marketing for aircraft OEMs before moving to charitable development.