No More Free Doughnuts: On-the-job training

No More Free Doughnuts On-the-job training By Wayne Fry I have a stack of training certificates laying here before me. I've got them all: factory training, in-house training, correspondence training, computer-based training, and a...


No More Free Doughnuts

On-the-job training

Wayne FryBy Wayne Fry

I have a stack of training certificates laying here before me. I've got them all: factory training, in-house training, correspondence training, computer-based training, and a handful of certificates that I don't remember getting. The latter are for subjects such as "Introduction to single engine, non-retractable landing gear, fixed pitch ducted fan propeller aircraft with vapor cycle air conditioning." And here's one for "Advanced theory of fully articulated elastomeric main rotor hub bearings as they relate to dual bifilar primary vibration dampers." (I'm not so sure about that second one.) I've had a lot of classroom time in my days. More than I care to remember. I enjoyed it all, but I don't have a single certificate for the best training I ever received; OJT. On-the-job training was by far the most useful instruction I ever got. There weren't any free doughnuts, I didn't get any baseball caps or stickers, no trips to exciting places like Ft. Worth and Wichita, but I learned something much more important: how to work on aircraft.
No classroom instructor taught me good work habits. No three-ring binder contained the knowledge I needed to fix three helicopters before sunrise to calm a panicky lead pilot. Like most of us, I learned these things in the trenches. Looking back on 18 years in the oil patch I'm amazed at the wealth of the knowledge that people were willing to pass along to me. So, now it's my turn. And yours. All those new A&Ps who wander out onto the hangar floor need your help. They need your knowledge. Here's your chance.
Many of the mechanics that I worked with were marvelous teachers. No one has a better idea of how to do the job than the mechanics who are out there spinning wrenches. In the helicopter world that I came from we worked on 10 different makes and models of aircraft on any given day. No one knew everything about all of them. If I needed help with an unusual problem, I asked around and got it. When the company I worked for bought some star wars technology to check the track and balance of main rotor systems, we received some very basic training on how to use it. They gave us just enough knowledge to be dangerous. The first time we hooked it up it was a disaster. We were moving backwards so fast that I didn't think we'd ever get the aircraft back up in the air. Over time, several of the guys became experts at using this gear. When we needed help, we didn't phone the factory reps; we called on our own experts. Two of the flight line mechanics starting giving classes. They gladly passed along what they had learned. They were proud of what they knew and proud to share it. This is a great approach to training and one we all need to take.

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