Monday, April 28, 2008

A recent question from the comment section

Asked 'what would you do different?'.

Well my young friend, first of all, I would have pursued that law degree instead.

But we won't go into that.

Let me ask you a question Rodolfo, 'Three to Five years.' Are ya sick of hearing that yet?

It's pretty much true. It will take you from three to five years to get a good foothold in this business.

What does that have to do with what I would do differently?

I'd spend that time to get a degree. Even though I never planned to turn wrenches forever I should have gone ahead and gotten a Bachelors of Aviation Maintenance Management. Do you see the keyword there?

Also, I'd pursue my IA. I've NEVER needed one in the situations I've been in but I'd get it anyway.

Why? A better (and more current) understanding and knowledge of the FARs.

Would you like to guess how many times I've had to do deep research in the FARs or even the 43:13 for that matter?

Damn few. Nearly ZERO.

So, again, why then? Wait 'til ya have to go toe to toe with a boneheaded inspector over some stoopitshit. It'll happen.

What else... Degree, IA...

I'd be a 'Tron! A Sparky. An Avionics Geek.

They don't do a lot of heavy lifting. They don't get greasy. Ya rarely see one of 'em bleeding. And, you almost never see one sweat!

(I ran that by another one of my Avionics Buddies today. He just chuckled and shook his head. I'd already been aggravating him. I needed a special pair of crimpers. He was a little busy so I threatened to use, "My car stereo crimpers". "Oh geeze David. Why would you use 3$ crimpers on a 5$ splice?!)

{{{Speaking of crimpers. KEEP YOUR DIGITS OUT OF 'EM!!! Once you close them past that first 'click' then you have to close them COMPLETELY before you can get them open again. That wasn't something they taught me in A&P school. I thank Joe Hitt for keeping me out of that bind.}}}

As things get more complex and more electric and more sophisticated (and they will) a solid capability with wiring diagrams and avionics/ electrical troubleshooting will be more in demand.

Sheetmetal/ Composites are another art form. Also, in demand. I envy the guys that can do that and do it well.

What else? I might even be more of a hangar rat. I've never understood the guys that get finished working on airplanes all day and the head over to another airport to hang out. BUT, NEVER underestimate that power of friends and contacts in this business!!!

Ol' Bill told me years ago, "Never treat an airplane as if you'll never see it again."

I'd add people to that theory.

A week or so ago I ran into an old friend. I mean a way back friend. We got our licenses within months of each other. He turned me on to an overseas job as a King Air Tech Rep. I applied and there is no word (or sign of any word coming) yet but you see the point. I can count on my hands the number of times I've even seen that fellow since 1990.

This part is easy for Me to say but, a Repair Station is great place to start BUT you'd better elbow, kick and scratch your way to the front. Get to where you are learning to troubleshoot and fix flight squawks.

EASY for me to say, don't get stuck in a back shop or the pits of a heavy.

This post is degenerating. It is really easy for me to preach from the couch. I've made my mistakes and I'd need both hands and have to take of my shoes just to add up the big mistakes. I'd just hate to see anybody else make the same ones.

Do keep us posted on your progress. How about a background story or a place to start from? Guam was it? Native? Navy? Or Military Brat? (I'm a quasi Army Brat.) Oh, and your friend... King Air pilot? The folks that are out there doing that sort of stuff are the ones to cultivate.


Anonymous said...

Hi David and thank you for the advice. For the past two and half years I've heard many of the points you've made and it's nice to see them condensed in a single post that I can reference online.

A little bit about me. I moved to Guam from the Philippines when I was about 5 years old. My grandparents got their start there in the 60s and my family and I followed their lead several decades later. Most of my friends were native but I went to public schools so I hung out and played sports with military kids all the time. I was lucky to have been exposed to so much diversity. I felt it gave me a unique global perspective.

After school I didn't have any money to go to college so I joined the Coast Guard. I wanted to go the aircraft mechanic route but the school had a two year waiting list. On top of that they wanted an additional commitment after graduation. That wasn't gonna work for me so I chose to be a navigator instead. Anyway my first three years were great. I got stationed in Kodiak, Alaska and saw all kinds of wildlife. Brown bears, whales, porpoises, salmon, and bald eagles. I remember pulling into Dutch Harbor for a port call and just seeing hundreds of eagles at the dock. It was crazy. They didn't look as majestic like the ones on TV but it was cool to see them in the wild like that.

Towards the end of my tour up there I went on a flying lesson with this guy with a thick Russian accent. Flew up in a 172 and I was immediately hooked. The backdrop of snow against the Kodiak mountains and seeing our base and our ship from 3000 feet was amazing. From that day on I knew I was gonna be involved in aviation for the rest of my life. After Kodiak I got transferred back home to Guam and spent the rest of my enlistment there. That's where I met Victor and his wife Dianne. They ran a successful tuna spotting gig in the 90s but by the time I met them the economy had declined and most of their helicopters were grounded. Victor was dual rated and got his training at Northrop Rice. He worked for the helo tourism industry when he got back and traded mech time for flight time. Seeing a local boy like Victor accomplish what he did with relatively few means inspired me to finally commit and go to A&P school. At first I chose Honolulu College but my arrangement over there didn't work out so I ended up in San Diego.

Well here I am now just months from finishing and excited about my prospects. I'm thinking about moving to San Francisco and working at a flight school near Concord. Nothing finalized yet though. After school I'm gonna look at all my options and go from there.

I'm not sure I want to go back to Guam right now. My buddy down there works for Continental Micronesia and he also gave me the "three to five years" spiel. But I don't want to work on the heavies yet anyway so I'm gonna start out in GA for now. Probably work on my degree at the same time. We'll see. Don't really like planning too far ahead but I like knowing what the road will be like nonetheless.

That's me in a nutshell.

Hal Johnson said...

Ol' Bill told me years ago, "Never treat an airplane as if you'll never see it again." I'd add people to that theory.

That's very good advice.