Wheels of an airplane with member of Line Maintenance

Joining the People Who Make Planes Fly

A few minutes before midnight I was standing beneath a plane listening as the Line Maintenance crew explained each check an aircraft goes through before takeoff. As they finished their demonstration, the crew member I was shadowing suggested we head over to the nightly meeting.

Obviously, this isn’t a normal pre-flight routine for passengers, but this time I wasn’t a passenger — I was a member of the team. During this summer I was interning with a major US airline and on this particular night, the team was preparing for one of the busiest flying days of the year. It was my job to shadow Line Maintenance on the night shift to gain insight on how they prepare for high-passenger days.

Our next stop was a midnight meeting where aviation maintenance technicians across Line Maintenance came together to discuss the current statuses of all the aircraft and make a plan for the next day’s flight schedule. This meeting took place on the other side of the airport, so we walked toward a car waiting for us on the tarmac.

Before opening the passenger door, I took a minute to look toward the night sky just as another plane descended toward the runway. As a child, I rationalized that magic made planes fly. As I go older, I began to understand the science behind flight a little better. However, that night when I participated in a meeting with the Line Maintenance leaders as they developed a plan for the planes the next morning, I realized that it is the people that truly make planes fly.

People working maintenance, scheduling flights, directing routes, flying aircraft, and so much more are just as necessary to the aviation industry as the jet engines and fuel. Standing there, feet away from the runway, dressed in a neon yellow vest designed to stand out, I never felt more like I fit right in.

This realization wasn’t instantaneous. Honestly, it’s impossible to pinpoint a moment in time when I realized I had a passion in aviation. Growing up, I’d sit on the back porch with my dad as we used binoculars to look at the stars. But I was always more interested in watching planes soar across the sky. When we flew to visit family, I looked forward to the upcoming day in the air, and spent the layovers glued to the airport window watching the various aircraft take off and land.

However, it was that night with Line Maintenance that I realized my passion could be a career — I wanted to join the industry of making planes fly. A career in aviation means that no one day will ever look the same. It is a dynamic, fast-paced and high-pressured field that millions of people depend on each day as they travel 30,000 ft in the air.

Looking toward my future, I choose aviation. I choose a complex industry where opportunities are limitless, passion is evident and every day is original. However, interning for an airline means that I only experienced a small part of a large and elaborate industry.

This summer, I’m getting a new point of view into the aviation industry as an intern with Jeppesen, a Boeing Company. Jeppesen has introduced me to a team of people who provide resources that improve both the technical and operational side of aviation. These are people who you probably won’t see on the tarmac, or in the flight deck (unless it’s their day off!), but their work is necessary to the success of every flight.

It’s different from what I experienced in aviation before, but neon yellow vest or not, I get to work with the people who make aircraft fly.

-Nicole Dusanek

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