On more than a handful of occasions, I have been accused of not being the brightest crayon in the box for making what I thought to be profound philosophical statements that then would backfire on me. Despite history not being on my side, I don't think that I am sticking my neck out too far by sharing with you one of my life's observations.
I have found that most aviation mechanics seem to be doomed to be a responsible lot who spend their lives solving problems, meeting deadlines, and praying for a dull moment between crises du jour. Rare is the mechanic who is blessed with that special kind of luck that makes him the holder of the winning lottery ticket on a Wednesday and then on Friday night, drives home with the big prize from the Church Bazaar. Sadly, I must report it is my experience that Lady Luck rarely visits an airport hangar. As far as mechanics are concerned, in the casino of life, the house always wins.
But not to worry, fellow mechanics, there is hope. What would you think if I told you that there is a contest out there that is designed just for you? What would you say that instead of your average lottery bizillion-to-one odds against you winning, the worst odds against you in a nation-wide contest is less than a 1,000 to one? What if I was to tell you that in this contest, there will be 25 winners and every one of the winners is going to be a mechanic? And the best part about this contest is you don't have to buy a ticket.
Interested? Okay, the name of the contest is called the FAA/NASCAR Aviation Maintenance Technician Award contest. The purpose of the contest is to serve as an incentive for the FAA's Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards program. This is the fifth year for the contest, and it is getting more popular every year. I suspect the reason behind the popularity of the contest is because industry sponsors have been offering some great prizes. What follows are the prizes for this year's contest.
And the winners receive . . .
Delta Airlines and RCR Enterprises Race Team sponsor the Grand Prize. If you win, you get to spend three nights in Atlanta, GA, and then on to Charlotte, NC, for two nights (includes airfare) where the winner serves as an honorary Pit Crew member on the RCR Enterprises No. 3 car and leave with an autograph race team jacket to show your kids or your grandkids.
1st Prize: Winner and a guest receive round-trip airfare to San Diego, CA, sponsored by Southwest Airlines, a rental car, discount booklet, and free tickets to Sea World. Warning: Don't sit in the first three rows at Sea World unless you are wearing wash and wear.
2nd Prize: Winner receives round-trip airfare to Oshkosh, WI, three days hotel accommodations, rental car, and free tickets to the EAA AirVenture 2001 sponsored by Sundstrand. This is the world's biggest fly-in. If you like general aviation airplanes, this is Mecca.
3rd Prize: Winner receives round-trip airfare to Arlington, WA, sponsored by BFGoodrich, three nights hotel accommodations, rental car, and free passes to the Arlington Air Show. This is grass roots aviation at its best.
4th Prize: Winner receives a five-day General Training course on Boeing aircraft sponsored by Boeing Aircraft. This prize includes round-trip airfare to Seattle, WA, and hotel accommodations. This kind of training is like vitamins for the mind.
5th Prize: Winner receives a United Maintenance Training Course, sponsored by United Airlines that includes round-trip airfare to San Francisco, CA, and a choice of training on the following subjects: Boeing 777 (40-56 hours) or Airbus 320 (40-56 hours) or an Advanced Composite Repair Course (80 hours). United is kind of proud of their maintenance facility, the world's largest, so they include a VIP grand tour — pack some sneakers, you will need them.
6th Prize: Winner will receive a $2,000 Gift Certificate sponsored by Timco toward the purchase of Snap-On™ tools. This prize should make your toolbox a little heavier.
Start your engines
7th Prize: The winner and three guests will receive tickets to the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Winston-Cup Race at Lowes Motor Speedway near Charlotte, NC, in May 2001, and one night hotel accommodations. Bring earplugs for everybody.
8th Prize: The winner will receive a maintenance training course of his or her choice, sponsored by SimuFlite International Inc. Pick from initial or recurrent training courses on King Air 200, Cessna Citation, Hawker, Lear, Falcon, or one of the other courses conducted at their Dallas/Fort Worth Training Facility. This is brain candy for the technical mind.
9th Prize: The winner will receive a two-day trip to New York sponsored by CAMP Systems International. This prize includes round-trip airfare for two and hotel accommodations for two nights in the Big Apple, a CAMP Squall Jacket from Lands End, and a CAMP sports cap. Take your significant other to a Broadway show.
10th Prize: Aircraft Technical Publishers Computer Software, sponsored by ATP. The winner will receive an ATP Maintenance Director™ E*Log maintenance planning and tracking software package, a one-year subscription to ATP Maintenance Schedule of the winner's choice, and a one-year subscription to ATP's U.S. Aviation Regulatory Library on CD-ROM.
11th Prize: A lucky winner receives a five-day Inspection Authorization Training Course, sponsored by Baker's School of Aeronautics. The winner will attend a five-day IA course in Nashville, TN, receive a Baker's Inspection Authorization Kit, free IA testing, hotel accommodations for five days, transportation, and $300 for expenses. Learn how to become the big kahuna of aviation maintenance.
12th Prize: The winner and a guest will receive round-trip airfare aboard Frontier Airlines to any city Frontier flies to, sponsored by Frontier Airlines.
13th Prize: The winner will receive a set of brand new Michelin tires for their car, sponsored by Michelin. For most mechanics, I know, these tires would double the net worth of their "airport" car.
14th Prize: The winner will receive free registration for the PAMA 2001 convention in Long Beach, CA, plus hotel accommodations for three nights. Come hobnob with the movers and shakers in aircraft maintenance.
15th Prize: The winner will receive a free, five-year PAMA membership and the other prizewinners will receive a one-year PAMA membership. This is a great organization that has only one agenda — professionalism.
16th Prize: Five winners will receive a one-year membership in the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance (AWAM) and an additional winner will receive a limited edition of a lithograph titled "She Strives." Sponsored by AWAM.
17th Prize: The winner will receive a free registration for the year 2001 International Women in Aviation Conference and a conference T-shirt, sponsored by Women in Aviation, International.
18th Prize: The winner will receive a Deluxe Travel Bag sponsored by Svaty and Associates.
Throwing your hat into the ring
Now to enter the contest, you must first successfully participate in the FAA Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards program. I heard that! Don't complain or whine! I told you right off that the contest's purpose is to serve as an incentive for the Awards program! Let's be adult about this!
Now, where was I? Okay, now I remember. If you earn a Bronze, Silver, Gold, Ruby, or Diamond AMT award, you are automatically eligible for the contest prizes. When you fill out an application for the FAA AMT award, the application also doubles as the contest's application. Turn in the application and proof of training to the FAA's Safety Program manager at the local FSDO. The inspector, after processing and sending you the AMT pin/award, then sends the application to the FAA/NASCAR contest headquarters in Atlanta. There, the applications are dumped into a big drum from which the contest winners' names are picked.
Time is on your side
Oh, by the way, the contest honors only AMT awards earned during the period from Oct. 1, 1999, to Dec. 31, 2000. There are three extra months in this contest year because we changed the calendar from government Fiscal Year to the regular calendar year in the latest revision of AC 65-25B Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards Program. We are also showing our kinder and gentler side by extending the deadline for submitting applications to Feb. 28, 2001.
If you think about it, this contest is a pretty good deal. Not only do you get recognition from the United States government in the form of an AMT award, but you also get better-than-average odds at winning some pretty decent prizes. If you want to learn more about the contest in glorious color, and you are into computers, the web site is www.faa.gov/fsdo/ awsp/ amtac.htm.
I'll be back . . .
In closing, I recommend that you at least think about dropping your name in the hat. But, be warned, this article won't be the last you hear about entering the contest. I figure the reason behind this contest is to serve as a marketing incentive to increase the amount of initial and recurrent maintenance training mechanics receive. And, since a well-trained mechanic is the best safety device the FAA can invest in, I ordered 15,000 contest posters and 30,000 tri-fold applications for this year's contest. I have asked your local Safety Program Manager to make sure that a mechanic won't have to look very far to be reminded about the FAA/NASCAR contest, so don't be surprised to see a contest poster in some unusual places. Who knows, if you take a shot at it, maybe Lady Luck will pay a visit to your hangar this year. Good luck.