A number of years ago I was the general manager of a Midwest MRO and one of the technicians asked if his wife, who was a guidance counselor at the local high school, could host the next meeting of the regional guidance counselors association at our facility. Obviously I agreed and provided a nice lunch coupled with a detailed tour of our facility.
They were delighted, and to this day I remember their stunned reaction to the different career disciplines available to their students right in their backyard. We followed up with individual students sent to us by the guidance counselors and subsequently hired a cadre of hometown students in a multitude of disciplines. Some came in as trainees and others returned two years later after graduating from an A&P school.
Within your own company
If at all possible promote aviation careers with your own company. One size does not fit all. Regardless of whether you are a corporate flight department, an MRO, or a charter/management company we have the opportunity to expose others to a rewarding career field. Your department or division provides a valuable service so do not hesitate to welcome fellow employees and their families and expose them to the opportunities available.
In 1962 I was 13 years old and lived in Boston, not too far from Logan Airport, where seeing the big piston powered aircraft climb slowly into the sky was a daily occurrence. I was always excited to see the airplanes and started a relentless campaign with my father to get a plane ride.
My father finally agreed to take me to visit his brother in Pittsburgh albeit on the Greyhound bus. So we went to Pittsburgh and when the visit was over, and it was time to return home, much to my surprise, we arrived at the Pittsburgh Airport instead of the bus terminal.
My father had booked a flight home to Boston on TWA which included a stop in Hartford, CT (Windsor Locks/BDL). The plane was a Lockheed Super Constellation which mounted four 18-cylinder Wright R-3350 (3,250-hp) engines. It was bigger than life! As we got on board I asked my father if there would be any chance to get a look in the cockpit.
Like most parents he was one step ahead of me. So as we got on board the flight engineer said, “I hear you like airplanes. That being the case, you may want to ride up front with us to see what’s going on.” I could not believe my good fortune as I was strapped in the jump seat wearing a big headset. We were off to Boston with an interim stop. In Windsor Locks, the flight engineer said he had to inspect the plane before we could take off for Boston and would I like to help him.
It was now night, so he handed an extra flashlight to me and out we went to perform what I would learn years later was a preflight inspection which I would perform many times in my career. As “we” looked the airplane over I asked him exactly what he did and he said he was a flight mechanic but now they call me a flight engineer.
I asked him if he likes his job. I’ll never forget his response “fixing and flying on airplanes is the greatest thing you will ever do.” Well that was my inspiration and the spark that ignited a lifelong love of aviation and a great career. As managers, we have an opportunity to inspire both on and off the job. Let’s all strive to be like the old flight engineer and “pay it forward” for the next generation.
As a long-time aviation professional I have several times heard of impending shortages of aviation professionals. Over the years I have heard this warning specific to maintenance technicians, although...