My Story… the Internship
Before I graduated high school, I was chosen to be a part of something that would eventually be a life-changing event. I was selected to be one of the first students to participate in an internship at the American Airlines Miami hub. Whatever I thought was a life-changing and significant before, scratch that! This was! The internship was scheduled for late July. It was going to be for 3 weeks. We were going to work one week in the hangar, one week on the line, and one week in avionics.
On the first day of the internship, we were told to report to the hangar at 6 AM. Once there, we were put with our partner who we would work with for the next 3 weeks of the internship. They put me with this girl named Loriana, and right away, we clicked!
We started in avionics. How do I put this nicely… we were so bored! OMG! BORED! It’s not that they didn’t work, they did, but when you are 18 looking to see what is so exciting about being an aircraft mechanic, avionics was not the route to go. The man we were shadowing would have us work on the computer and complete different aircraft wiring programs.
Yay! So much fun! Not!
We stuck with it until the week was up, working on the computers and helping with any jobs that he had. He was very knowledgeable about finding wires, locating where a fault was coming from, and resolving the issue. At this time, I didn’t think much of it, but now, years later, I thank him for all he taught us because it made things more manageable when I first started working on airplanes. Once it was up, it was on to our next assignment, line maintenance. This is what we were waiting for!
Our first-day working line maintenance was a busy one! He had us out there changing tires and running to gate calls. It was so much fun! Loriana and I use to go up to the crew chief and ask him for work, not what they were expecting. Nonetheless, we did, and it made us happy. This was the first time I ever saw someone manually open a start valve on a B777. So cool! I couldn’t wait to do that myself one day! At the end of the week, we had an early morning tow from the gate to the hangar on one of our planes. They allowed Loriana and I to ride with the Taxi/ Tow crew and see first hand how they used the Goldhofer. The Goldhofer is a towbarless tow tractor that works by hugging the nose landing gear and lifting it off the ground. Pretty cool if you ask me! After that morning, I asked the guys on the tow crew if I could show up earlier every day to help them out. They said yes, and Loriana and I showed up every day at 5 AM to help them out. I think this was my favorite part of the internship.
The last week of the internship, we worked in the hangar. In one of the jobs we helped out with, we had to change a B777 tire. The torque was so high that Loriana and I both put all of our weight on the torque wrench, and it wouldn’t budge. Funny if you ask me! While we were working in the hangar, this is where I got my first ever fuel bath! We were helping them work on an engine FMU (Fuel Monitoring Unit). One of the loose lines slipped, and fuel was dumped on me. Not a fun day! However, an excellent learning experience.
As the week and internship came to an end, I couldn’t believe all we had learned and were apart of. I’ll be honest; I think the guys were happy that we were gone. I think Loriana and I worked them harder than they had been used to in a long time. There is nothing like being in the action, first hand, to solidify my desire to be an aircraft mechanic. I wanted to work for American one day; I just wasn’t sure how I would.