A talent for mechanics turns into Aviation Maintenance Technology career
At 25-years old Trevor Wise has always been good with his hands. He and his Dad, Rob, had restored his grandpa Jerry’s 1985 Toyota 4-wheel drive pickup that had been given to him in 2014. “The first thing we did was take the camper shell off and put bigger tires on it,” says Trevor. “It’s made to crawl up rocks and mountainsides and it’s gearing makes it unstoppable.”
When Trevor decided to pursue a career, he committed to doing some gearing up of his own.
Were you willing to expand your education to get the career you wanted?
I never really liked school and I’d dropped out of community college to go to work – I needed the money. So, my dad was kind of shocked, but I got a lot of support from him and my mom (Denise).
I was always just trying things out, trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Every job was along the same lines of construction. One day I was looking on a job board and came across aviation jobs, A&P (Airframe & PowerPlant) jobs and aircraft mechanic jobs, so I started doing some research.
Why did you choose SJVC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT) program, located at the Fresno-Yosemite International Airport to realize your career ambitions?
Honestly, I was just looking online for high-paying jobs and after my research I thought, ‘Wow, I can be an aircraft mechanic’. Taking big leaps is usually not my way, but I was always good with my hands and working on aircraft was more unique than working on cars. And I could do something that not many other people get to do.
I called another local school and SJVC was a better deal; it was a more accelerated program. I liked the small class sizes, and the program was only 4-days a week that gave me free time to get other things done. But I had to stop working because I’m the kind of person who has to put 100% into school.
Was the coursework intense?
There’d be times I didn’t want to study, and I’d be just brain-fried from studying so much. But my mom reminded me, ‘You’re so close to being done; don’t quit!’ Not that I ever really thought about quitting. My dad would help me study, using flash cards. He worked as an electrician all his life and was fascinated with what I was learning and doing.
I didn’t know that I could take the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) written test I needed to get my license as I completed the courses or met certain requirements. In the end, I was the first one in my class to complete everything to get my A&P (Airframe and PowerPlant) licenses. Now I was eager to get out there and work!
Was there anything you did not expect in your Aviation Maintenance Technology program?
I didn’t know I had such a love for aviation until I went to that school. A few months in, when you walk outside (on site of FYI airport landing strips), it’s just kind of like ‘Whoa’, watching planes take off and land using parts that you’re learning about and working on. That was a huge advantage seeing how flight controls work in action.
I always tell people that I went into the program wanting a job and came out of the program with a passion for aviation.
You completed your AMT program last year; where did your career land?
I went to work for Columbia Helicopters in Oregon where I’m a Rotor Technician right now. We refurbish and overhaul Chinook rotor heads for the Army. Not as many mechanics work on helicopters as work on fixed-wing aircraft, but I think it’s good because it’s more of a specialty. Chinook helicopters are cool. This has opened my areas of expertise and in a way, it’s pointed me in a new direction.
Honestly, I love my job. I do a lot of measuring and inspecting parts for corrosion, weakness. I am the last point of inspection in the whole process before it goes back to assembly. When I say it’s good-to-go, it has to be good, otherwise someone could be in harm’s way.
Is the pay scale what you thought it would be?
This is my first time living on my own, in my own apartment and I can well afford the rent. Now I’m breaking out of the nest, having to pay for everything on my own. I have a greater appreciation for my parents.
I am gaining a broader scope of experience (work) and expertise that will bring me future opportunities.
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