Oscar and his boys strike a pose for their family photo.
By Jessica Weney & Jul DeGeus
Thanksgiving is a time of reflection; what we have, what we want and even what we’ve lost. Here at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM), we witness gratefulness daily through the hard work and effort our students and staff exhibit. Gestures of gratitude can so easily go unrecognized when you’ve got your eye on the prize, as so many of our scholars do.
But what is behind this drive? What makes ‘the daily grind’ worth all the effort to our students? Jessica Weney, Student Services Coordinator of AIM Philadelphia, was curious to find out. So, like any inquisitive mind, Jessica sought out for answers by interviewing Oscar Polanco, Diane Pettiford, Luis Zayas, and Teresa Williamson, students at AIM.
Teresa and siblings gather to support one another.
Who/What are you most thankful for?
Oscar: My kids are my daily motivation. I want to give them the best life I can give to them, so they do not have to live with struggles I did. I am thankful every day for the health and happiness that both my family and I have.
Diane: I am thankful every day for my family. I would not be able to achieve what I am right now without their motivation and support.
Luis: I am thankful for God and the path he put me on to get me here. I am so, so thankful for my family for supporting me with my decisions and motivating me to do the best I can.
Teresa: I am thankful every day for life as a whole. I’m thankful for my parents for making me the best person I can be, teaching me that sky’s the limit, and to reach for my goals.
Diane’s children snuggled up together.
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Oscar: My favorite traditions is getting together with my family from all over the country. Catching up over dinner and cocktails, reminiscing, and learning what new exciting things are to come for my family.
Diane: Last minute shopping trips with my sister and knowing what the looks will be on my kids’ faces when they get their gifts is priceless.
Luis: I love getting together with family, reminiscing, and showing love and support for one another.
Teresa: Being that my parents are deceased, the holidays are rough for me and my siblings. My brothers and sisters and I all go to mass together because it was something we used to do with our parents on the eve of the holidays. We also have a small dinner just the 4 of us.
Luis and his family geared up for game day.
And there you have it. Jessica found out that you can find the reason behind anyone’s drive, if you just take the time. Like Luis’s lifelong dream of becoming an Aviation Maintenance Technician or Diane’s daily performance, showing her children she is a strong, positive and encouraging role model. You’ll see Teresa living each day out emulating her parents and honoring their memory or Oscar showing his children the rewards of hard work and the bond of family. And finally, Jessica, whose determination and curiosity actually reflects her affection and devotion towards every student who walks into her office.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at AIM.
The new build team has been busy getting things organized and making themselves more visible. They have been assigned a dedicated area in the shop, and the project can be included on tours when new students are checking the school out. Additionally, a large wall display will show the team members, and photos showing both history and current activities with the project team.
This new display will keep everyone posted with the progress on the Nieuport Project.
After the rapidly growing student population at the Philli school squeezed the Nieuport project out of its dedicated workspace, it was relegated to a shipping container setting next to the hangar. While this held the materials just fine, it did not allow for any work room. Everytime the team wanted to work on the airplane, they had to move everything out, accomplish what they could, and then move it back to storage. Not a real productive situation. To provide for the larger student population, a new hangar has been built, and several lab spaces have been turned into classrooms. The school finally has room to breathe, and space to dedicate to this project. A separate, and secure space has now been dedicated to the Nieuport, a new project team assembled, and once again progress is being made.
The Neiuport 17 gets a new home.
The new project teams consists of:
Fuselage Team Corey Jones(Graduate/ Team Chief), Luis Bendezo, Martin Heck
Powerplant Team Anthony D’Onfrio(Graduate/ Team Chief), Ernst Jean, Ainsworth Palmer
Wings Team Alfred Gunter (Team Chief), Peter Hamilton
Landing Gear Team Jose Camacho(Team Chief)
Tailfeathers(Empennage)Team Barbara Rivero (Team Chief), Billy Sutherland
Instructor Scott Roberts will serve as project manager, with instructors Pete Costa and Douglass Babb as advisors.
Recent activities include, Pete Costa and Tony D’Onofrio borescoped the Rotec R-3600 engine (which has been in storage for several years) and determined that all was well inside. Work on the new engine test stand is progressing, but we are awaiting metal for the structure, having already built the base. This will allow us to run the engine and make certain that everything is in working order before it is installed on the fuselage.
The airframe is still in process: We have encountered a compound problem with the
square tubes used for the upper and lower longerons: our regular supplier has run out of stock of the .750″ x .049″ square tubing we switched to when they ran out of the same size in .035″ stock. They are not, apparently, running another production batch at this time, so we are trying to find an alternate source. Our back-up plan is to replace the square tubing with round, then add an edge former to replicate the square outside corners for cosmetic purposes: this would entail replacing at least the upper sections of longeron, so they both match. The lower longerons are currently in process of being shaped properly to conform to the required curvature. One advantage to switching to round tubing is we would be able to more easily curve the materials using a tubing bender.
The Tailfeathers Team is working with the elevators which were previously cut and shaped, and will be constructing the horizontal stabilizer next, followed by the rudder. We are still sourcing a few of their parts, bushings, etc.
The Wings team is making their patterns, and will be beginning construction of their pieces within the next month. We believe once the templates are made, the plywood ribs, fittings, etc. should come together relatively quickly.
The Landing Gear team is waiting for their aerodynamic tubing to arrive: It has been backordered twice at this point, and they are working on the sheet metal pieces.
Keep coming back to see the progress we are making.
Had to cancel Weekend WWI build because of Possible 2 feet of snow. The WWI airplane spirits are working against us again.
Unfortunately we have made no significant progress in our aircraft. With no space in the hangar for the project and the project in a conex box the set up time on a normal day is inhibiting any real progress. Once the new hangar is finished in July we maybe able to get some dedicated space for the project and make some significant progress. We have made a some progress in our flight controls. The one instructor that was volunteering his time had almost completed the elevators before he departed the pattern.
There have been no winners yet. After the first clue it narrowed it down to about every pilot in World War I. This week’s clue should narrow it down only a little. I do not want this to be to easy. This pilot raced cars before the war and he was not an American.
Have fun Andrew AMP