LIFT Academy has a talented team of aviation maintenance technicians (AMTs) who are the heart of operations. May 24 is National AMT Day, and we are fortunate to have some of the best AMTs around. Our AMT Apprenticeship Program offers a direct pathway to a career at Republic Airways. Having gone through the program, Justin Gibson is now an AMT at Republic and reflects on his time at LIFT Academy.
Question: Hi, Justin! Thank you for sitting down with us today. Before we get started, I just want to say thank you for what you do. The work of our AMTs is celebrated and appreciated not just on National AMT Day but every day. You started your career in aviation maintenance through the LIFT Academy AMT Apprenticeship Program and today you are a licensed AMT at our Indianapolis Maintenance Hangar. Congratulations! I know it takes hard work and dedication. Have you always wanted to work in a technical field?
Justin: Yes, I have always wanted to be in a technical field. Since I was a child, I have always enjoyed using my hands and brain to get things back up and running. I used to disassemble my toys after getting them and put them back together just to see how they worked. I loved watching Modern Marvels and How It’s Made over everything else, including Saturday morning cartoons.
Question: So, you knew you wanted to pursue a career in aviation maintenance, but what drew you to the AMT Apprenticeship Program at LIFT?
Justin: I was in school at the time at Aviation Institute Of Maintenance attempting to bounce between there and work while also keeping my sanity, and it wasn’t working for me. In a stroke of luck, a man I worked with at my job mentioned LIFT to me as he was the first mechanic hired. I immediately wanted to work there to get my Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) license. The idea of getting hands-on knowledge, industry standards, and securing a pathway to a career with Republic all in one package was hard to pass by. Guys at Republic like to toss their A&P license on the table and jokingly say, “That’s the most expensive piece of plastic I own.” I love tossing mine down and saying, “Can’t say the same, they paid me over $75,000 to get mine.”
Question: It is quite a benefit of the AMT Apprenticeship Program to be able to earn while you learn. It sounds like you enjoyed your time in the program—is that true? What was your overall experience like at LIFT?
Justin: It was hard, stressful in a way any job is, but by far the most rewarding and fun time I’ve spent with an employer to date. I’ve made plenty of lifelong friends with my co-workers and have gained skills that put me on a further starting line than most I know in the field.
Question: What were the most difficult parts of the program for you? How were you helped through them?
Justin: The actual maintenance work. From working on cars and being a small-time handyman in my family to working on aircraft is an entirely different learning curve. The hardest part was that initial push to feel more comfortable and trust your work on the aircraft. Doing major maintenance on something a friend in the student pilot program would soon trust their life to was a harder pill to swallow than I thought. That is also in turn what helped me get through those moments and strive for perfection in my work. I learned to home in on the tasks at hand, ask for help from the fleet of licensed A+P Mechanics, and build that trust in myself and in my friends flying the aircraft.
Question: Reflecting on your time in the program, did you have a favorite part?
Justin: Getting to take a plane apart to its basic components, inspect and reinstall everything, give it a final look over, and then be the one in the right seat on the maintenance flight to verify everything worked. Getting to sit in a plane knowing that I had taken the wings off with my colleagues the night before. These were by far some of my favorite parts of the program.
Question: Now that you have taken off in your career, tell us what it’s like working as an Aviation Maintenance Technician at Republic! It must be exciting.
Justin: It’s great—the team at the IMC is the best. I love that I’ve yet to have a day where I’m not excited to go to work there. Jets have always been a fascination of mine, so getting to turn wrenches on them ices the cake. The work is harder, bigger, and heavier than LIFT, but I hit the ground running and haven’t stopped yet.
Question: What would you tell someone considering a career as an AMT?
Justin: Get started now! If aviation is an interest or passion for you and you love the mechanical side of things, it’s a no-brainer. Every day not started towards the goal is another plane you don’t get to work on. While the quality of life is important, in these times, money is also a driving factor for many, and there’s plenty of money to be made in the aviation industry as an AMT. It can take you anywhere in the world and with high regard.
Question: Thank you for sharing your story, Justin. You are paving the way for those coming after you. You should be very proud of yourself! Before we wrap up, is there anything else you would like to add?
Justin: I am proud to have completed the program and have reached the end goal of being licensed. LIFT was the perfect opportunity for success within the industry, and I’m glad I got to take part. It truly was an honor.