Becoming an A&P Part 2
When you’re going through hell keep going…
While working the morning on the American Airlines internship, my classes for Airframe had begun. I was late on signing up for classes, so I was forced to start with Airframe 2 first. In the Airframe 2 classes, we learned about the different systems that run through the aircraft's body. I had this awesome teacher, Mr. Hernandez. He use to call us “Hernandez trained killers.” He was a very knowledgable teacher and prided himself on being in the know of what was going on in the industry. He wanted to prepare us for anything that we might face in the field. He provided us with copies of different aircraft manuals, for reference only, and anything he thought we might need to be successful.
Of all the classes I took with him, my favorite class, hands down, had to be Hydraulics and Pneumatics (fitting considering that my first job dealt with hydraulics and pneumatics). However, the information in his Landing Gear class is what stuck with me the most. He taught us about how the gear worked and possible issues you can face, such as spongy brakes. Believe it or not, but the information in this class was something I was later able to use on a road trip to Cuba. Understanding the landing gear system and how to remove air from the system came in handy!
My least favorite class was electrical. Believe it or not, I failed electrical! The longest class that the school had to offer, and I failed it!!! This was one course I just couldn’t understand. The first time around, I struggled. The second time around, I struggled, but I had a better understanding and put my heart and soul into studying. I passed, and the rest was history.
During this time, I got a job at the school as a Powerplant teachers assistant to make some money. My best friend, Diana, was in the class I worked, so it was a blast! Every day was an adventure. I think the thing I enjoyed most about being a teacher's assistant at George T. Baker was the refresher course in Powerplant. Even though I had just graduated, I found that there were many things that I had forgotten. I won’t lie; it helped solidify my love of engines.
I finally got around to taking my Airframe 1 classes. During this time, I started my first job as a mechanic, working at a repair station overhauling hydraulic pumps, actuators, and anything pneumatic. I would work in the morning and then go to school at night. The first class I took was flight theory.
Composites was interesting, nothing like I had ever done before. Quite honestly, everything in Airframe had something I had never done before.
During my Airframe 1 classes, I was going through a rough time at home and had to move out. I left home with nothing. I was broke, I had no vehicle, and I had no idea what I would do! One of the guys at the aviation school had a spare bedroom in his house, and he let me rent it from him. The real plus in all of this was that I moved into the same complex my best friend, Diana, lived in. In the morning, Diana would drive me to work. After work, my lead would drive me to school, and my roommate would drive me home from school. This happened every day until I saved enough money to buy my first car. To this day, I don’t know how I did it living off of $25 a week. I remember practically living off the dollar menu at McDonald’s and the dollar menu at Taco Bell; hoping that I could scavange enough change together to purchase some food. It was really all I could afford. It got to a point that I would fill my car up on Mondays using credit because by the time I would get paid, the bill would be hitting my account, and I would have money to pay for it. This had to be the lowest point, financially, in my life, yet somehow I pulled through, and weirdly, I was optimistic. My horrible predicament never stopped me from reaching my goal.
When my boyfriend, at the time, convinced me to work at the MRO facility he worked out, that is where everything turned… kind of. I was making more money and had a better job and was still going to school with a couple of classes left to go.
The last class that I took was sheetmetal. During our shop time, we were told to build a toolbox. Can’t lie, it was a pretty cool project. As much “fun” as this class was, I seriously struggled through it. Lets put it this way, I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler if my life depended on it! However, I took to riveting and really enjoyed it, especially when I had to drill out a bad rivet.
When I finally finished all my classes, I couldn’t have been happier. This was the moment I had worked so hard for! It was time to start my testing and finally become a certified A&P mechanic.
So this is the part of the story where I am sure you are expecting me to say, “just like my Powerplant testing, I took it right away and passed and the end.” Well, it didn’t work like that. Working for an MRO wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it was going to be. After continously being laid off, I was too broke to afford my tests. I always said I was going to, but when the choice came between rent and my certificate, rent always won. I ended up holding off on getting my Airframe certificate for almost 2 years after I finished the schooling. I had people that offered to pay for it, but I was young and dumb and very, very prideful! So I always turned them down.
When I quit my job at the MRO and started working at the Cargo Company, I thought to myself, “this time, I will get my license.” But no. I didn’t. See, the thing is, once you have been out for a while and are working, the desire to get your certificates begins to drift. You get way too comfortable in your circumstances, and well, that’s it. It wasn’t until the company that I was working for began to sink that the idea of getting my Airframe certificate crossed my mind, and it didn’t really cross my mind until they laid me off. This all happened around the time Miguel and I started dating. He was still working when I was laid off and offered to help pay for my rent as long as I put the money towards getting my Airframe certificate. I said yes and began studying right away.
If you don’t remeber from my pervious Blog about becoming an A&P part one, I am HORRIBLE AT TESTING!!! I studied my butt off for my Airframe written test and when I thought I was ready, I tested. Guess what! I FAILED!!! Yup that’s right, I failed! I was so disappointed in myself. Miguel calmed me down and told me to study again and when I thought I was ready, he would sign me off to take the test again. So, I did that and a couple days later, using the power of his A&P certificate, he signed me off and I took the test again. This time I passed!!! I couldn’t believe it!
Next was my Oral and Practical testing. At the time, the wait list for the schools testing was almost a year out, so I decided to test outside the school. I got all of my paperwork in order and headed to the FAA office and got my approval to test for my Oral and Practical. I set my date for the test, and studied my ass off! I really did this time! I created flashcards for all of the Oral questions and had a friend come over, who had recently tested for his Airframe certifacte, study with me for the practical.
On the day of the testing, I drove to the airport and met up with my tester at 7 AM. He set up the questions he was going to ask me on the computer and we started the Oral portion of the test. I am not kidding you when I tell you it took my 30 minutes to answer all of the questions! 30 MINUTES!!!! He was so proud of me! We took a 15 minute break and then it happened! An FAA inspector walked through the door! He wanted to observe my tester and see his how he worked. AN FAA INSPECTOR!!!! No pressure right! He watched everything I did and everything the tester did and about 5 hours later, the test was over and I had passed. The FAA inspector congratulated me on my accomplishment, especially with the pressure of him watching me. I had finally done it! On October 31, 2014, after all these years, I was offically a certified A & P mechanic.
Remember, this is my story… everyones story is different.
If you are interested in becoming an A&P, head over to www.AMTJOBOPENINGS.com for blogs about becoming an AMT in the United States and a list of the FAA-approved part 147 schools in the United States.
That was a really long road! You have been so strong throughout it. Even during the worst. Super proud of being part of your story. Congratulations for always persevering!
Very inspirational, and well done. Hard work pays off! Love your blog!