A number of Aviation Institute of Maintenance campuses have been selected for a partnership with Delta Air Lines. With this partnership, the campuses gain an industry resource in their efforts to train students in their quest to become FAA certified aviation maintenance technicians.
By Brian Stauss
A number of Aviation Institute of Maintenance’s (AIM) campuses have been selected by Delta Air Lines for a partnership in an effort to prepare for the hiring needs brought about by the forecasted demand for qualified aircraft maintenance technicians.
Over the last few months, Delta TechOps, the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) division of Delta Airlines, has been evaluating aviation maintenance schools, searching for institutions that demonstrate a commitment to meeting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) standards as well as Delta’s high principles that exceed these industry standards.
Selected for these partnerships include AIM campuses located in the metro areas of Atlanta, GA, Dallas, TX and Washington D.C, along with campuses in Las Vegas, NV and Chesapeake, VA.
“This partnership is an incredible opportunity for our students and graduates that will allow us continuous improvement of our Aviation Maintenance Technician program by partnering with one of the premier leaders in the aviation industry,” says Ben Sitton, Executive Director at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance’s Atlanta metro campus. “Delta Air Lines recognizes the high demand of the Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) position and we are honored to be a resource to assist them in attaining the industry’s best and brightest AMTs.”
About Aviation Institute of Maintenance
Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is a network of aviation maintenance schools with campuses coast-to-coast across the United States and headquarters located in Virginia Beach, Va. AIM students are trained to meet the increasing global demands of commercial, cargo, corporate and private aviation employers. AIM graduates are eligible to take the FAA exams necessary to obtain their mechanic’s certificate with ratings in both Airframe and Powerplant. AIM’s campuses are located in the following major metro areas: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, Mo., Oakland, Calif., Orlando, Fla., and Norfolk, Va. Learn more at: www.AviationMaintenance.edu.
A Spotlight on AIM Atlanta’s Day Coordinator, Christopher Kraft.
By Diana Hammond, Edited by Jul DeGeus
Christopher Kraft is the Day Coordinator at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance located in the Atlanta Metro area of Georgia. He started his career with AIM over ten years ago and since has become a prominent and supportive figure on campus. From supervising, hiring and training instructors to ensuring compliance with the FAA, Kraft is vital to making sure the operation of the AMT program runs smoothly. Like so many, Kraft has a colorful and exciting past that most are unfamiliar with. A life woven with tales of aviation, adventure and his passion for history, Kraft was fortunate enough to find himself involved in some historic events.
From a young age, Kraft knew he wanted to work in aviation. At age 18, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard and worked hard as a “deckie” for three years until he was able to train and become an aircraft specialist. The first helicopter flight that Mr. Kraft ever took was in a Sikorsky HH-52A, while stationed in Port Huron, Michigan. Little did he know how big of an impact this would have on his life. Kraft instantaneously became entranced with helicopters and the way the aircraft could perform life-saving auto rotations during that first ride. After he finished his training in Port Huron, Kraft was stationed at the Detroit Coast Guard Station. The Detroit unit was the last unit in the Coast Guard with active Sikorsky HH-52As in their fleet. Kraft held the position of crew chief, or flight mechanic, for the unit that covered an area of over 400 miles from Saginaw, Michigan to Buffalo, New York.
Kraft (far right) pictured with friends after his first helicopter flight.
Throughout the late 1980s, the Sikorsky HH-52As began to be decommissioned, dwindling their numbers. In 1989, the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum contracted the Coast Guard with requests to fly a Sikorsky HH-52A from Elizabeth City, North Carolina to preserve the aircraft in the museum’s collection. Based off of Kraft’s intimate experience and extensive knowledge of the helicopter, he was chosen to be part of the groundbreaking maintenance and delivery mission.
A few years later, Kraft was transferred from the Detroit Coast Guard Base to the Brooklyn Coast Guard Air Station at Floyd Bennett Field. The Brooklyn Coast Guard Air Station was, at the time, the oldest working search and rescue unit in the world. While with the Brooklyn Coast Guard Unit, Kraft delivered yet another Sikorsky HH-52A to an infamous museum; this time, he performed the maintenance and delivery of a Sikorsky HH-52A to the USS Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum Complex on the Hudson River.
In 1994, the Brooklyn Coast Guard Air Station was decommissioned and Kraft, along with his crew, found an original rescue hoist designed by Igor Sikorsky, the founder of Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and pioneer in helicopter design and manufacturing. (1)Additionally, they found a guestbook that had been signed by historic figures including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few. These two items were sent to find a home, alongside the Sikorsky HH-52A at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum collection. To the public, the Sikorsky HH-52A helicopter, the rescue hoist, and the memorabilia at the Smithsonian are historical artifacts, to be gazed upon, read about and passed by. But to Kraft these were, and will always be, pieces of living history that defined significant moments in his life.
Kraft is a veteran of many search and rescue missions that were performed on Sikorsky HH-52As. The Sikorsky HH-52As are credited with saving over 40,000 lives while in commission. “As far as maintenance goes, it would take up to eight hours of maintenance to fix a helicopter that had landed in the water. After rescuing a person, and delivering them home safely, my mission was to take care of the Sikorsky that made it all possible,” Kraft reminisces.
Helicopters have become one of the most indispensable aircrafts in the world, with their efficiency in performing life-saving tasks. Christopher Kraft, of the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, is a fine example of someone who has fulfilled the dream of Igor Sikorsky in helicopter rescue and maintenance. Thank you, Mr. Kraft, for passing on your legacy and passion to our students at AIM Atlanta on a daily basis.
1Recognizing Igor I. Sikorsky, a National Aviation Pioneer, H. RES. 331, 108th Cong. (2003-2004).
By Jul DeGeus
We’ve all had that one teacher. You know, the one that was so cool that we didn’t really consider them a teacher. I mean, yeah, we were learning from them, and all, but it didn’t feel like it was their “job” to teach us; they did it because they sincerely wanted to see us succeed. They wanted us to be who we wanted to be and would give us every tool they had at their disposal to help us to get there. We’ll never be able to thank that person properly, but in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day on May 9th, we’d like to thank some of our instructors who are making a difference in all that they do:
“At AIM Houston, Mr. Michael Riccardelli has been instrumental with providing his skills and expertise to our students. He has especially been an important influence on our A&P Skill Competition Team, the Houston Hawks, who recently placed first at the PAMA Olympics and 2nd at the Aerospace Maintenance Competition in Orlando. His hard work and dedication to our students at AIM Houston is imperative in the success of our Skills Team and all our graduates. AIM Houston would like to thank Mr. Riccardelli and all the AIM Houston faculty for the hard work they do every day. Every one of you is truly appreciated.”
– Aaron Armendariz, Campus Executive Director, AIM Houston
“Mr. Robert McRight was selected as AIM Orlando’s Instructor of the Year 2017 due to his professionalism, dedication and attention-to-detail; He raises the bar for excellence. His unselfish example exhibits him as a team player, which is always evident in his willingness to go above and beyond what is expected. The students that Mr. McRight taught consistently rated his professional and caring teaching style among the best they had received. The manner in which he conducts himself reflects total dedication to the mission of the school. He is most deserving of a job “well-done” recognition!”
-Jerry Moore, Campus Executive Director, AIM Orlando
AIM Kansas City
“Mr. Decker has been an instructor at AIM Kansas City for just over a year. In that short amount of time, he has had a great impact on the students. Mr. Decker once sat right where our students sat, as he is a graduate of AIM Kansas City. Mr. Decker creates a class environment that leads students into additional exploration of advanced subject matter above and beyond the standard curriculum. He won instructor of the year at AIM Kansas in his first year, and is always looking at ways to improve the campus. Keep up the great work Mr. Decker!”
-Adrian Rothrock, Campus Executive Director, AIM Kansas City
“Tom Oriole is the resident “helicopter guy” and one of our finest instructors at AIM Atlanta. Having received his A&P license in 1972, Tom has worked all over the world including Nuevo Leon, Mexico and Jiangxi Province, China. Tom joined the faculty at AIM Atlanta in September of 2012 and quickly became an invaluable asset to the school. Whether introducing new students to Aerodynamic Fundamentals in block 1 or showing a student in block 5 how to calculate sheet metal bend allowance, Tom exhibits the skill, patience, and natural ability to excel as an instructor. Tom has the respect of the students, the faculty and staff and we’re proud to acknowledge him on Teacher Appreciation Day.”
-Ben Sitton, Campus Executive Director, AIM Atlanta
“Mike Morgan was selected as the AIM Indianapolis instructor of the year for many reasons. Mike has been instrumental in developing new training aids, such as the JT – 8 engine with functional thrust reverse and the Cabin-Atmosphere mock-up improvements. Mike works on projects outside the bounds of normal class hours and is always successful in getting students involved with the extra projects. Mike is an excellent instructor in the classroom and while students claim they are joking about switching shifts to ensure they have class with him, I think they are only half joking. Mike is a mentor and role model for his students and co-workers. We are proud to have Mike on staff at AIM Indy.”
-Andy Duncan, Campus Executive Director, AIM Indianapolis
“James Heaver has worked on 8 different aircraft fleet types, for 3 different Airlines and has been an instructor for the past 12 years. James has held many position in the aviation field, such as Airline General Maintenance Manual Instructor, Engine Run & Taxi Instructor and FAA FAR Part 147 Director of Education, which make him a well-rounded educator for our campus. In April of 2017, we honored James by choosing him as AIM Manassas’ “Instructor of the Year.” Thank you for all that you do!”
– Marion Dobbins, Campus Executive Director, AIM Manassas
By Diana Hammond & Jul DeGeus
Aviation Institute of Maintenance Welding program at AIM Atlanta.
In honor of April being National Welding Month, we sat down with AIM Atlanta welding instructors, Shane Graham, David Coetzee, Carlos Murphy and Roger Anderson, to get their feedback on what sets the welding field apart from other trades:
What led you to want to study and work in the welding field?
Shane: Form the first arc I ever stuck when I was kid on the farm, I guess you could say I fell in love with welding. It got in my blood. There’s nothing compared to the instant gratification of lifting your hood to see that perfect bead you’ve been working on all day, all week or even years. To know you’re one of the few that can call yourself a welder is a great felling and it comes with a certain amount of respect.
David: My father told me when I was very young that if I developed skills with my hands, then I would never go hungry. This led me to pursue fabrication and machining skills. I also enjoyed be
ing able to create things and having the abilities to take most projects from start to finish.
Carlos: I liked that I could start my own business and that the money was good for an advanced welder.
Roger: I was inspired by multiple family and friends who worked in the steel manufacturing industry.
What’s the most fascinating thing about welding to you?
Shane: I weld because I love testing myself and pushing my skills every day. There are so many metals to weld: Titanium, nickel, hastelloy, cobalt, carbon, aluminum, stainless, etc. Nothing beats being able to start with plate steel or tubing, and by the time you’re done, you’ve made something like a boiler or a crane or a backhoe. The options are endless as to what you can make.
David: The joining of metals at the molecular level is very fascinating and with technology rapidly advancing, the options are almost limitless. The only limiting factor is your imagination. Welding can be done in space, on land, or underwater. There is such a vast array of specialized welding careers in the industry- it would take more than 10 lifetimes to experience them all.
Carlos: There’ such satisfaction and pride for me when I see the masses of people using the products that I made by welding. To see that soldiers and marines drive the armored vehicles that I welded for them to stay safe.
Roger: I love the security in the sense that after retaining the knowledge of welding and fabrication, it’s very easy to make extra funds or start a small business with very little overhead.
Welding students, Jude and Warren, with instructors Mr. Coetzee and Mr. Cash, at graduation.
What advice would you give someone interested in the welding?
Shane: Welding opens up the door to a lot of adventure’s and opportunities; it challenges you daily. It’s a skill that can take you around the world. If you can dream it you can build it. A welder’s job is not one that is set in stone. There are thousands of different roles in thousands of different industries working with thousands of different products. One can accomplish great things as a welder. 35 years in the field has given me the opportunity to own my own company, with 100+ full time employees, and build multimillion dollar projects. I’ve made a lot of money and I received the National leadership award from Congress. Looking back over my life, I would do it all again, with no regrets.
David: Pay attention to details, ask questions, specialize and do what you love and have a passion for; the money will come to you.
Carlos: Welding is a great source of income. It’s fun and you will meet great people in this business.
Roger: The person interested in a welding career should not be afraid of minor burns, cuts, dust, dirt, smoke, fumes, or hard work.
What inspired you to teach this subject rather than work in the field?
Shane: I’ve already made a lot of money in my life, traveled the country. In this chapter of my life, I wanted to give back and slow down a bit, as am older now.
David: I saw a demand for skilled and knowledgeable welders. I felt compelled to help pass on trade skills and techniques, so I turned my attention from working in the field to being an instructor.
Carlos: I wanted to share the science of welding. I wanted to improve and refine the economy by teaching students the proper knowledge and information for the workforce.
Roger: I have worked with so many knowledgeable men and women with copious amounts of experience. They passed that information down to me, so I feel obliged to pay it forward!
Do you have a teaching moment at AIM that you want to share?
David: I have had a number of good moments in my short time here at AIM, but one stands out to me most: A graduating student introduced me to his parents and said, “[I] was the best instructor [he] had ever had.” He said, “[I] was more than just a welding instructor, [I] was like a life coach to him,” and that felt good.
Carlos: I teach the do’s and don’ts of interviewing to my students. I show students how to speak to a recruiter. I also teach students to take pride in their work, improve their resume, and land a welding job.
Roger: Everyday working with students who are new to the process is a fun moment.
By Jul DeGeus
Imagine this: Your final paper on ”The History of Cleaning and Corrosion Control” is due tomorrow but you forgot to cite the book you used, and even worse, you forgot the name of the book. You make an emergency trip to the library, but when you walk in, no one is there. A building abandoned, books are scattered everywhere, piled atop of one another with no rhyme or reason in how they are categorized. Will you find the book in enough time to turn in your paper?
Thanks to the hard work and organization skills of librarians, this is an unlikely situation to find yourself in. April 4th is National School Librarian Day and here at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance, we wanted to take the time to recognize some of our all-star librarians:
Rebecca (left) assists a student with homework.
“Rebecca Crosby has been working for AIM Atlanta for nearly 14 years. She is a superstar on campus and we are proud to have her as our librarian. Rebecca became interested in Library Science as a high school student. She took five years of Library Science courses while attending Berkmar High School in Lilburn, GA.
Rebecca began her career at AIM as a receptionist. The campus was based out of a hangar called “Briscoe Field” and had no library. When AIM Atlanta moved into its new campus building nine years ago, Rebecca made the leap to Campus Librarian. Rebecca loves working in the library because she is able to help students and connect with them on a daily basis. Like almost every other librarian, she also loves to read! Rebecca’s favorite book, for now, is “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks. “
-AIM Atlanta Staff
“Shout out to the amazing Mrs. Leah Veal, our Librarian and PSI proctor. No matter the task or project, she is always willing to assist wherever she is needed. Even if that means hunting down a missing manual; she will look for it and she will find it. Both students and staff appreciate you and your enthusiasm when helping others. Thank you, Leah, for everything that you do!”
-AIM Chesapeake Staff
“Valerie Harris has worked at AIM Dallas as the campus librarian since 2015. Prior to that, she worked in education for over 25 years. She graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s Degree in Library and Information Science and minored in History. Valerie has improved our library processes and coordination. She is always willing to provide a helping hand to students searching for specific information or material. Thank you for always making sure the library remains a quiet haven for our students to study. “
-AIM Dallas Staff
“Lucero ‘Lucy the Librarian’ Rosales began her career at AIM Houston as a part time receptionist and was promoted to Assistant Librarian shorty after. Lucy is very creative and always willing to help any student or staff member. She currently attends Houston Community College where she is studying pastry arts and plans to open a bistro after college. We’re so proud of all of your hard work, Lucy!”
-AIM Houston Staff
AIM Kansas City
Frederick Douglas Thomas
Aptly named after the famous Frederick Douglass, AIM Kansas City’s Frederick Douglas Thomas is treasure to our school. A man of many titles, Fredrick is the Librarian, Career Services Coordinator, director of FAA test proctoring, and head of the graduation committee. He is a constant rock of support for his students and colleagues, encouraging excellence, honor, integrity and humility. He challenges everyone he interacts with to become their best selves and does it all while looking like a million bucks! Thank you for all that you do!”
-AIM Kansas City Staff
“Karoline received her BA in History from the University of Central Florida and her Masters in Library Science from San Jose State. Karoline became a librarian because, ‘I have a deep love for history and books; this is a career that allows me to fulfill that passion and share it with others.’ We’re lucky that our library is the one you get to share your passion with!”
-AIM Oakland Staff
“Noreen started at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Orlando on January 26, 2015 and plays a dual role. She is the testing proctor in the afternoons and the Evening Library Assistant, accommodating students with their Learning Resource Center needs. Noreen comes from New York, likes to keep busy and ‘loves to help people.’”
“Ruth is the Daytime Library Assistant at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Orlando. She started at the campus on May 12, 2016 and ‘loves working with our students.’ Originally from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Ruth enjoys cooking and singing gospel music in her spare time. “
-AIM Orlando Staff
More work completed by students in Atlanta on their WWI Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter aircraft.
overhead view of oil tank and new battery box
Completed battery box
Volunteer students at Aviation Institute of Maintenance in Atlanta have been busy this week completing numerous projects on the WWI Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter. These promising aviation mechanic students finished plumbing the oil lines and the fuel systems hard lines on this challenging aircraft. Another group from the aviation school finished the battery box installation. They have started wiring the instrument panel for the Sopwith and all the wires that go through the firewall, ignition, alternator and such. One of the sheet metal instructors from the aviation career school in Atlanta has been helping on the nose cowl so that should be completed soon.
All in all the Atlanta WWI Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter project is moving along very well. There are still some hurdles to get over but they are getting there.
Join the team at