Open Letter: AMT Recognition

Call for grass-roots support of National Aviation Maintenance Technician Day


This is an open letter to all mechanics and technicians, working in repair stations, manufacturer’s overhaul facilities, FBOs, and airline maintenance facilities who have ever complained that they are not treated with respect by their company/union, or grumbled about their pay, or working conditions, or their boss(s), or their peers, or even the snooty retorts from the parts room guy.

So I have to ask you. Do you want some respect? Do you want recognition for the work you do? Perhaps even earn a bunch of self-esteem at a national level? But, why stop there? Do you want your career field and your contributions to aviation safety to be recognized by Congress and the President of the United States? Well do you?

What am I talking about?

I want May 24 to be forever known as National Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMT) Day. To make this happen, the May 24 National AMT Day resolution has to be passed by Congress and signed by the President of the United States. This is no small achievement.

Yeah, I know you have been hearing about this AMT Day just about forever. And you also know nothing has happened since the first National AMT resolution was submitted in 2003. Now almost four years have slid by and anyone in their right mind would be right to figure that the AMT resolution is dead in the water. Well, that is not necessarily true any more.

First a little history lesson

In case you are wondering, the May 24 date was picked as the U.S. National AMT recognition day in honor of the birthday of Charles Taylor, the Wright Brothers’ mechanic.

The idea for an AMT recognition day was born in the mind of Giacinta “Gia” Koontz, the former director of the Portal of Folded Wings Shrine to Aviation where Charles Taylor is buried. The idea was given form by FAA’s Richard Dilbeck of the Sacramento FSDO who on April 12, 2002 drafted the resolution and got Senator Pete Knight (R) (Burbank) to sponsor May 24 as California’s AMT Recognition Day. It passed.

The first attempt at creating a “National” AMT Day resolution was a House Resolution (HRES 586) that was drafted by Richard and sponsored by Congressman Dan Lungren (R-CA) in 2003. This time it did not pass; no grass-roots support at a national level. Strike one.

In 2005 the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association’s (PAMA) president, Brian Finnegan and Richard Dilbeck collaborated with Maryanne DeMarco, the former head of Legislative Affairs at AMFA representing 20,000+ AMTs on Capitol Hill. Maryanne crafted the resolution in the proper legal language and with strong support from Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Association (AMTA) and PAMA, Congressmen Oberstar (D) and Lungren (R) reintroduced the AMT resolution as House Resolution 4582 on Dec. 16, 2005. But like the Bible story about the good seed thrown on rocky ground, the May 24 resolution again withered away from lack of support. Strike two.

Richard Dilbeck now decides to build on his original California AMT recognition day and begins a nationwide campaign to get all the individual states, commonwealths, and territories to recognize May 24 as AMT Day. Helped by legions of committed mechanics and supporters many states quickly signed their own AMT resolution. As of this date, only the states of Idaho, New Hampshire, Louisiana, Ohio, New Jersey, Delaware, Alabama, West Virginia, and South Carolina have not signed off on their pending State’s May 24 resolution. Of the six U.S. territories only the Northern Marianas, and American Somoa May 24th resolutions are still pending.

Now enters an unlikely hero — Ken MacTiernan. Ken’s full-time job is being a line mechanic for American Airlines at San Diego International Airport for the last 21 years. In his spare time he serves as the director of Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Association (AMTA) based in Chula Vista, CA (as well as being an AMTSociety board member). Ken, like Richard, uses a different approach to get recognition for mechanics and technicians.

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