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Well-known member
Jan 14, 2002
I am a low time pilot that loves to turn wrenches almost as much as flying. Are there any jobs out there where I can do both? I'm currently working on my CFI and hope to collect as many ratting as possible. A good pilot never stops learning....right
You're right. A good pilot never stops learning, or studying.

There are a number of jobs which will permit you to turn wrenches as well as fly. Most of these jobs, however, are dirty jobs; that is; the're working jobs. Few, if any, white shirt jobs will involve piloting and wrenching.

Don't be surprised to quickly learn that having the mechanic ticket serves to keep you from flying; once an employer learns that you can fix what you break, you'll probably find yourself on the bottom of the list for flying duties. Or you'll find yourself flying to less than idea locals to fix what other people break.

Having a mechanic certificate has it's advantages. It does give you an edge in some jobs (FE jobs, in particular, but working jobs, as opposed to straight "driving" jobs).

I got my first corporate job (and not coincidentally, my first jet job) because the corporate department needed a director of maintenance/copilot. Soon I was flying 15 hours a month, and turning wrenches about 80 hours a week.

One problem I've found in the past has been confusion on the part of a potential employer. A quick glance over my resume will show that I've turned wrenches for many former employers, as well as flying. The first question I sometimes get is, "are you applying for a mechanic position, or a pilot position?" Recently a friend at a local college offered me a job as...director of maintenance for their flight department. When I suggested I would be interested in doing some part time instructing there, rather than turning wrenches, they expressed surprise.

Conversely, several days ago I was offered a position with an ag operation. It involved flying ag, flying fire, showing and selling airplanes at airshows, managing the airport, and working/managing the shop. A big selling point to getting the job (aside from previous ag, fire, sales, and management experience) was the A&P. Having an inspection authorization will make a big difference, too. In this case, it was an offer to move into ownership, as the current operator wants out. Again, a working job, as opposed to a button-down job, but it all depends what you're looking for. In some cases, the A&P will be helpful, others detrimental, and others, it won't matter. For some jobs such as this one, it's essential.

It all depends on your career aspirations. Having the A&P is a good place to fall back; it's a good way to secure jobs in the event that other jobs are no longer available. However, if you're looking for the fast track to the airlines, you'll probably find that being a mechanic may slow you down a bit. This is especially the case if you take jobs that require an A&P, or which will use your mechanic's services in addition to your flying. A strange paradox, but true.

What are your goals?

I had a friend whom, I believe, earned his A & P before his ratings. I don't know if or how much he actually worked as a mechanic, but it placed him around airplanes and I believe it helped him land a commuter job. He told that one time he was an an outstation and something was wrong with his Metroliner. I don't remember if he said if the airplane needed to be fixed, but he did say that with his mechanic's certficate he could give it a signoff and continue flying.

There are a number of turbojet airlines that hire pilots as flight engineers, but also require an A & P to go with the FE certificate.
I gotta hope the A&P will help with something soon...

I'd just as soon live in Barrow, AK and fly Navajos and fix them about as much... But so far I've gotten no love. But I've only been looking for a few weeks really now. I think I'm more of someone that has to be "experienced" to be understood :)

But I do find that I can fix just about anything. Today: Hot Tub, Computer, Truck lights, Coolant Leak, Another Computer... Don't know what I'll break and fix tomorrow :)


PS-firefighters would be sweet too, but there are more Green Bay Packers than firebomber pilots

You don't have enough time or experience to meet the OAS/USFS minimums for a tanker copilot, but private mail me a message.
Am A&P can open doors in an indirest way. I was a full time A&P with a 135 operation and then a commuter, also while instructing. The people I met as a mechanic forged my flying carrer. One of the pilots at the commuter had a flight school and gave me a job as a instructor. Another guy I worked with at the 135 operation hired me to fly a Citation with him. That was my big break, I still turn wrenches, just not to the degree I did before. An A&P helps enormously when you get your first big job and go to groundschool. I cant imagine what it might be like for a 1000 hour instructor being force fed comlex systems that they have never been exposed too before. When you work on complex airplanes and troubleshoot numerous complex systems, it helps immensly when you learn how to operate similiar systems as a pilot.

So be happy you have work these days, NEVER make any enemies, make the pilots your friends, and DONT give up on flying.

Good Luck!
I have had my A+P and my IA for over 25 years and have always used it and kept it current. From experience I would give up my pilot priveledges before I would give up my A+P. When you have your A+P it puts you head and shoulders above all the other pilot's. I can honestly say that having it has gotten me jobs and great money over other pilot's especially during hard times. Even now I do flights that other pilot's can't due, due to the fact that I have my A+P and am listed as a current mechanic under our 121 program. When I ran my business I wouldn't even hire someone unless they had their A+P. Frankly if you love to get dirty and be a real aviator then having a A+P puts you on the right track. Historically you will find that all exceptional pilots had strong maintenance backgrounds and had the ability to get the job done.If and when you get to the airlines you will find yourself light years ahead of everyone else due to your ability to understand systems and apply proper airline standards(logbook entries etc.) over the normal Joe Blow line pilot. Welcome to the elite club, there are not very many of us....
Two guys I have flown with were also A&P's. One worked at Cessna and got his break when a customer bought a Citation II and wanted a pilot mechanic. He is now with SWA. The other guy worked on our bosses Sabre as a mechanic, and was eventually offered a pilot job. He is currently a Capt at our company. It is s a good thing to have.
I have been an A&P almost since out of high school and been flying since junoir high. And I can say that having the A&P has gotten me farther in my career than I have ever dreamed.

I was a struggling pilot when the old A&P got me that job that I needed most to build my time.

And I have had an excellent career as a mechanic as well when I was working as a full-time mechanic for a couple of major airlines on heavyjets, and still work part-time now for an airline, sure helps out the first year regional pay.

Also like Turbo said in the previous post, employers look at a pilot with an A&P with experience as an asset, escpecially the companies with the older equipment that always need the TLC.

But I will add this, I spent lots of time inside an airplane working when I thought I should have been out flying. What I mean is, your busy troubleshooting a problem and when a trip comes up the other guy gets it because you too "busy" working on the airplane, frustrating sometimes but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I have an excellent career to fall back on if I ever lose my medical or something unforseen happens where I am faced with no work as a pilot.

Nothing like seeing a broke airplane leave that you spent all day working on trying to coax into the air.

Thats from my days at Air Transport International on DC-8's.

Long live the 8!

Good luck,
Chuck Yeager

Chuck Yeager started off as an aircraft mechanic in the U.S.A.A.C. He turned out okay.

Read his autobiography, Yeager.

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