The FAA explores the future of Unmanned Aircraft Systems, or drones, and the possible need for Drone Maintenance Technicians.
By Jul DeGeus
For obvious reasons, we at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance are highly anticipating the celebration of Aviation Maintenance Technician Day on May 24th.
On May 24th in 1868, Charles Edward Taylor was born on a farm in Cerro Gordo, Illinois. He would one day work on engines for the infamous Wright Brothers and become known as the first aviation maintenance technician. (1)
In the latest issue of the Federal Aviation Administration Safety Briefing, assistant editor Jennifer Caron transports you back to the early 1900’s, when the three “crazy” men attempted to make a solid object fly; something that is normal to us today. She then snaps us back into to the present with one genius question: “… you’re an AMT, watching in amazement as drones become increasingly popular. Are YOU the next Charlie Taylor — for drones?” (2)
She’s got a great point- what is the potential outlook for the UAS industry and UAS maintenance technicians? Caron explains the background, demand and the promising opportunities:
The job potential and growth is real, and most believe the UAS industry will grow exponentially. Just consider companies that look to use drones for package delivery. Theoretically, they will need thousands of UAS to meet delivery deadlines not only in the U.S., but around the world…The possibilities are vast. As more and more companies identify and create the need for UAS, the need for UAS technicians will flourish as well. (2)
AIM’s Introduction to Unmanned Aircraft Systems training is a way for individuals to learn more about this evolving industry. It’s a two-day course offered at our Manassas, VA, Chesapeake VA, Atlanta – Metro GA, Dallas – Metro TX, Oakland CA, and Philadelphia PA campuses.
This article, “Drone Maintenance Technician: Aviation Job of the Future?”, is a must read for those interested in UAS, as well as forward thinkers and innovators. Click here to read the article by Jennifer Caron, found on page 33.
- Taylor, B. (n.d.). Charles E. Taylor: The Man Aviation History Almost Forgot. Retrieved from https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/phl/local_more/media/CT%20Hist.pdf
- Caron, J. (2017, May & June). Drone Maintenance Technician: Aviation Job of the Future.FAA Safety Briefing, 33-34. doi:https://www.faa.gov/news/safety_briefing/2017/media/MayJun2017.pdf
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).
Veterans Day was no small affair at Aviation Institute of Maintenance. It was a day filled with excitement and gratitude at AIM campuses all across the nation. There were ceremonies, celebrations and even just some special, little ways to say thank you, like pizza! To those that we owe so much to for their bravery, strength & patriotism, it seemed only right that we celebrate them in a big way!
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Late in September, a number of crates were delivered to the Military Aviation Museum’s Fighter Factory from the Aviation Institute of Maintenance – Kansas City campus, where a team of students and instructors have been working on the Museum’s latest aircraft, a World War I vintage Morane-Saulnier AI, building it from the ground up.
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The EAA AirVenture 2015 airshow, held July 20-26 in Oshkosh, WI, was the place to be for aviation enthusiasts of all ages. The week-long gathering set many firsts for the annual event, bringing together approximately 550,000 people, wanting to experience the history and thrills that only aircraft can bring.
This year’s tag line, “Only in Oshkosh,” was true to form, with a diverse array of aircraft on display, ranging from personal aircraft to the debut of the F-35 Lightning II, the only airworthy B-29 “Fifi” and the first-ever landing of a B-52 at the show.
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