Working the D-Hangar

Today was my first day at work for Dynamic Aviation (DA). I ended up filling out loads of Human Resources paperwork, watching two movies on sexual harassment and safety, and taking a drug test. By the end of the work day, I was able to meet some of my co-workers and get started on cleaning de-icer boots. I left work today more confused about what the company “does” than when I started. The topics of “TOP SECRET CLEARANCE” and, “absolutely under no circumstances will you take photos” have a little something to do with my confusion. Because of that, you won’t be seeing photos of my workplace.

I am slowly learning names. At least the ones I remember to write down that is. I bring a note book to work every day. I write down employee names and maintenance notes. If they are a senior employee I also add something we talked about in our conversations together. I do this just in case I decide to write him an email later down the line. For two days now I have been shadowing an A&P mechanic named Ricky. He has been working for Dynamic Aviation for 3 months now in their Dash-8 modifications hangar. So far, all we have done is de-wax de-icer boots that go on the leading edges of the Bombardier Dash-8. We still have a couple days of stripping wax ahead of us. A great thing about this internship so far is the HUGE lunch break! Every day at noon the entire company practically sits outside for an hour to eat lunch. Two ladies from HR walk the parking lot for exercise. One mechanic I work with even walks the entire airport facility.

Three days and I am still cleaning de-icer boots. I am starting to learn more about how DA distributes its maintenance work. Who are the sheet metal guys, who are the avionics guys, etc. DA actually contracts a lot of things out which was surprising to me. I met some electricians who don’t even have their A&P because they fall under their contractor’s certificate to just do that one job. All day they make wire bundles that will be used on the new avionics packages that DA and its customers determined the planes need. DA has contracts with the government to recon and surveillance as well as contracts with the agricultural industry. After work I was so tired I practically went straight to bed. In the dorm room I am staying in, I have one roommate. He’s nice, respectful, and an aspiring pilot/mechanic like me. DA is paying me to work as well as covering the dorm room costs to live at Eastern Mennonite University (EMU). So I guess I really should not complain about cleaning the de-icer boots of an about to be modified military contracted aircraft.

Friday! Ricky and I finally finished working on the boots and started taking off an engine exhaust fingernail panel (think about a 2 foot wide by 5 foot long plane exhaust tip). I have learned this week that the Dash-8 planes we are working on have come from Africa. An airline in Africa sold the planes to DA for extremely cheap because they were in a seriously rough condition. As of now we are recording all problems with the planes we find and cleaning the corrosion off so that DA can determine which -8 out of the five that they bought will be the cheapest to restore. Finally! I know a little about this maintenance program!!!

After work I drove to Maryland to see my cousin and help renovate their house. Saturday and Sunday my cousin’s husband and I replaced ceiling, laid rock board which will eventually see tile, and installed a water outlet for a washing machine. Back home to EMU in Harrisonburg by 6pm. At 11pm our new roommate Gary arrived from California.
I don’t know if I was tired from this past weekend, or am just not use to having steel toed boots on, because I felt like I was dragging my feet all morning. After lunch I started to work a little faster. Ricky and I have been put on a job installing the baggage compartment flooring inside a -8/100. First we had to clean and paint some corroded spots and inspect the entire area for damage. Other interns, like my roommate, are working in the paint shop, hose/upholstery shop, or working for facilities. I consider myself pretty lucky to land a position in the modification department in the D-hangar with the big planes. I spoke to Matt, our HR rep who handles all the interns, and talked about possibly working for the flight department for two weeks just to meet people and get some face time. He said it was a possibility, but it will take a week or so to set up.

Today I started work in “fast mode.” As soon as I could, I jumped into the -8 and started installing floor panels. One of the older mechanics needed some help so I jumped in a scissor lift and helped him attach a de-icer boot to the vertical stabilizer. Thirty feet high strapped to a lift screwing in boots absolutely made my day. This goes to show you how well DA treats their interns, especially if you’re motivated. Some “higher ups” in the company stopped by the hangar today and asked a question to the other gentlemen beside him. I overheard the question and knew the answer so I immediately jumped in. They were really impressed and it led to more talking. I told them about my ambitions and schooling. The men remembered my name and even talked about me working for DA in the future. Great contact for later. I wrote down their names, titles and what we talked about in my notebook for future references. Man I wish I could have taken photos of what I did today.

The D-Hangar crew was out for the day completing training to become a Part 145 repair station. That’s good news because being a 145 will open more contract deals with the government. So while they studied, I was given the job of installing all the floor panels and composite flooring in the -8. Some pretty fun stuff especially since I was doing it solo. Gary, my roommate, is now working in the D hangar. Hopefully I will still be given some personal projects like I had today. After work I went to the gym with Gary and since he has arrived the three of us haven’t stopped talking about flight, maintenance, and future jobs we would like to have. Good times.