I realize that I haven’t explained anything about my work background. I am an Air Force trained Biomedical Equipment Technician, in other words, I can repair medical equipment. I’ve been doing just that for the last 30 years. My specialties are anesthesia machines and bedside monitoring. Although I’ve specialized over the last 15 years, I’ve worked on just about everything at some point along the way. I only stayed in the Air Force one term but pursued my career in the civilian work force afterwards.
Three and a half years ago, I was asked to take all of that knowledge of equipment and roll it up into a new program that plans for the strategic replacement of all aging medical equipment within our hospital system. I now work in Materials Management as the Senior Technical Analyst and manage the program to keep our equipment updated and capital equipment budgets under control.
I have a degree in electronics with anatomy and physiology thrown in so that I understand how and what the equipment is analyzing or doing when it’s connected to a patient. Along with the electronics, I have an understanding of motors, engines and mechanical components too.
Does all of this help me with flying? I don’t know but it does help me understand the internal workings of the plane and probably helps me have confidence in its ability to do just what I tell it to do from inside the cockpit. Am I more aware of leaks or strange sounds? Yes, I think so, but it doesn’t mean that it’s any more difficult for someone without this sort of background to learn what to look for as well.
I think becoming intimately familiar with an airplane helps you realize when something new or different shows up that may need your attention or the mechanic’s expertise. I, for one noticed from the very beginning if the belts or spark plugs were new, or if it had a leak somewhere or if something just didn’t look quite right. I’m also very detail oriented so I tend to make mental notes about the position of things so that if there is a shift or a change I have a reference point in my head to how it looked previously. I am flying the same two planes regularly in training so I can tell you quickly if there is a difference from the last time I performed a pre-flight inspection on them.
Do I love getting all up in an engine or under a plane and possibly getting oil and grease on me? Absolutely!
I may not be the norm, but that follows suit with the rest of my life. I have worked in what amounts to a man’s field all of my life. I don’t find it odd or intimidating being around planes any more than I have ever felt working as a Biomed. It’s part of who I am and what I do. I have heard that it can seem uncomfortable for women coming into aviation but what I find is that you are as comfortable as you make yourself and that pilots in general are a very welcoming bunch.
Sometimes I miss the days of just working on equipment and getting it repaired and back into service. Equipment doesn’t complain or talk back when you’re working on it. These days, I answer phone calls, emails and sit in meetings more than I’d like to about when I’m going to replace equipment but it’s still an important responsibility and I don’t take it lightly.
The skills that I have developed over the years help me not only at work but with learning to fly as well. The background with working on equipment and commincations skills I’ve honed give me confidence branching out into other areas. I look forward to growing in my knowledge of avionics and building my flying skills along this journey.
You don’t need a background like mine to be comfortable with flying but it is part of who I am and I do believe it will help me be successful in learning to fly.
All things are possible for those willing to put in the time and effort to achieve a goal. Some things are harder than others, but the harder it is to achieve, the greater the sense of accomplishment in the end.