St. Louis, Missouri
Current Job: As a helicopter mechanic, my responsibilities range greatly due to the complete refurbs and thorough inspections of our helicopters. Our fleet is scattered across the United States and consists mainly of Bell JetRangers, LongRangers, and 407s.
First Aviation Job: Working as a mechanic apprentice for a local helicopter flight school while I was attending A&P school. I was able to help with minor inspections and familiarize myself with a variety of helicopters, including a Bell 47!
Favorite Helicopter: The Bell 407. It’s proven to be a powerhouse in the sky, and it offers a challenge for me on the maintenance side. One of the more challenging tasks is tracking and balancing its four-bladed main rotor system. It feels like an amazing accomplishment when the helicopter is completely finished and the ride is smooth.
How did you decide helicopter aviation was the career for you?
I always knew I wanted a career in aviation, but I wasn’t sure which direction to go in. I was introduced to the world of helicopters my senior year at Southern Illinois University. I toured the helicopter program they offered, and I really fell in love the minute I set foot in that hangar. Helicopters are truly a vital niche in aviation, and I wanted to be a part of it.
How did you get to your present position?
I landed my current position as a helicopter mechanic by networking at HAI HELI-EXPO 2019. I attended the show while still in A&P school and was looking for a great company to begin my career with. This led to a few referrals to my employer, Helicopters Inc. They received my resume and gave me my first employment opportunity as an A&P mechanic.
What are your career goals?
My current goal is to obtain my private helicopter pilot certificate and to add further ratings as I grow. I’d love to use these certifications as well as my A&P throughout my career. My main career goal is to be a well-rounded mechanic and pilot, as well as to possibly teach others someday.
What advice would you give someone pursuing your path?
Try something new. If an aviation career truly interests you, I implore you to take a shot at it. As someone who had no friends or family with an aviation background, I’m more than happy with my career path choice. You don’t need any prior training to begin. Just be eager and willing to learn! There are so many opportunities in aviation; you just have to find which path works for you.
Who inspires or has inspired you?
My inspiration comes from many important people in my life. My father, who started my interest in maintenance by teaching me how to wrench. My mother, who taught me to be independent and always work your hardest. And of course, my helicopter instructor, Karen Johnson, for her knowledge and example as a woman in this industry.
What do you think is the biggest threat to the helicopter industry?
The lack of exposure. Those in aviation are aware of the large amount of vacancies in the workplace. Many young people are unaware of the career paths available to them, and this must change! That’s why I’ve created my social media blog “How To Helicopter” (@howtohelicopter on TikTok and Instagram) in hopes it can spark interest in those exploring different professions.
Tell us about your most memorable helicopter ride.
My most memorable helicopter ride was actually quite recent! I was in New York working on a few of our helicopters when I had the opportunity to go on a flight over New York City. I was able to see amazing views over the East and Hudson Rivers as well as fly by the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building. It was by far my favorite experience yet in a helicopter!
What still excites you about helicopter aviation?
The endless amount of opportunities available. In just the few short years I’ve been involved in the helicopter industry, I’ve gotten to meet so many amazing people, travel to new places, and see some of the most extraordinary views!
What challenges you about helicopter aviation?
I think the biggest challenge for me is to always be better. The helicopter industry is busy and ever-changing, and with it so am I. I want to progress in my career, always striving to complete a new goal. Currently, as an A&P mechanic, my next challenge is my IA [inspection authorization] certificate as well as my private helicopter pilot certificate. Having these challenges keeps me motivated and always moving forward.
Complete this sentence: I know I picked the right career when …
… I went for my first flight at Helicopters Inc. around downtown Chicago! At the time, I’d only been at my job for a few months. We’d just completed a large maintenance inspection on our helicopter in Chicago when I was asked to go up for an operational test flight. The pilot was kind enough to take me over the city near the end of our flight, and I was astonished by the scenery. I just kept thinking to myself, “This is what it’s all about.”
Complete this sentence: I love my job, but I’d rather work for a paper company in Scranton when …
… a fuel cell inspection is due on a hot day or when it’s time to repack some floats!