Celebrating International Women’s Month
One of the programs offered at LIFT Academy is our Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) Apprenticeship, which is led by LIFT Maintenance, a team of talented AMTs. LIFT Maintenance and the apprentices perform all inspections and repairs on our Diamond Aircraft fleet. Our apprentices are trained by the best licensed Airframe and Powerplant (A & P) Technicians. Upon completion of the program, about 30 months start to finish of on-the-job learning, they’re ready to become licensed A & P technicians and employable by the airlines!
As a part of recognizing International Women’s Month, we’re featuring two women who are a part of LIFT Maintenance. While aviation maintenance may be a male-dominated field, these two women feel right at home in the hangar. Mariah Loyd is an A & P Technician, and Christy Perez Vasquez is an AMT apprentice. We sat down with each of them to ask about their journeys at LIFT.
Mariah Loyd, licenced A & P Technician
Q: What were you doing prior to joining our LIFT Maintenance team?
A: Before I came to LIFT, I worked for another company that was more of a factory environment. I don’t like being rushed in a safety-focused industry; I want things done correctly and in a safe manner. Before getting into aviation, I was in the service industry. After LIFT, I will never go back to that!
Q: What drew you to LIFT Academy?
A: I just wanted to work on planes. I already have my A & P license and was often training new employees at my last job, so training apprentices and working on planes at the same time is so much fun for me.
Q: What did you think about LIFT before you came here? And how did that change after?
A: I only knew this was a chance to use my full A & P license on actual aircraft. It was an opportunity I could not pass up. Since being at LIFT, I fell in love with it and how people are treated here.
Q: What about working at LIFT makes you most fulfilled?
A: For me, working with the apprentices is just a side perk. They are very smart and hardworking. It is a pleasure showing them new things, but I didn’t realize how much of a part of that I would be when I was hired. I was wanting a proper A & P position to work directly with the aircraft, and I got lucky with this one. It has been fun and exciting from day one. Getting in the planes, doing runups, riding on maintenance flights and working on the aircraft makes my heart soar. It’s like the most adult version of LEGOs but with even more moving parts!
Q: What barriers have you found when trying to get into a male-dominated industry like aviation maintenance? How have you overcome them?
A: The biggest hurdle for me in this industry has been dealing with a lack of respect. I haven’t experienced that here, but often the men I have worked with didn’t even know they were treating me differently than men with equal or lesser knowledge or experience. I have overcome the barriers by working twice as hard to get the same respect as the men I work with. A good concept of logic and common sense along with a steady work ethic help.
Q: What is your favorite part of LIFT?
A: Constant respect and understanding. There hasn’t been anyone here that I haven’t gotten along with or disliked. That has never been the case before in previous roles.
Q: What are you most proud of in your career path?
A: I am proud of everything that I have accomplished in this field. I never thought of it when I was a kid, and I have worked hard for a career that I truly enjoy. I never stop learning, and there is always something new and exciting to learn.
Christy Perez Vasquez, AMT Apprentice
Christy Perez Vasquez
Q: Have you always wanted to work with your hands or in a technical field?
A: I’ve always wanted to work in a technical field. When I was in high school, I took an Auto Tech course. I could have taken that course for the rest of high school, but I doubted myself and didn’t feel that it would be a fit because I am a woman.
Q: What were you doing prior to coming to the LIFT AMT Apprenticeship Program?
A: I was a Flight Attendant at CommutAir, which is another regional airline that operates for United Express, similar to Republic Airways. I was also a Flight Attendant Instructor at my previous company, so I taught new hire Flight Attendants how to evacuate the various aircraft, how to do CPR and fight fires, as well as observing them on their first few flights after new hire ground school.
Q: What drew you to the LIFT Maintenance Apprenticeship Program?
A: What drew me to LIFT was definitely the fact that I would be getting paid to go to school. I was looking at schools originally in New Jersey where I lived, and the schools out there for Airframe and Powerplant are very expensive. I would have had to find a part time job while I attended. Then, I looked for apprenticeship programs in New Jersey, Virginia and several other East Coast states and failed to find any. When I found this opportunity at LIFT Academy, I honestly felt like I struck gold!
Q: What about the LIFT Maintenance Apprenticeship works best for you?
A: What works best for me is the fact that I am doing something I’ve always wanted to do, and I get paid to do it. This program combines both, and it honestly makes it so much less stressful for me.
Q: What have you found to be the most difficult part of the Lift AMT Apprenticeship Program?
A: The most difficult part for me personally was not having any knowledge in maintenance. I didn’t even know the names of the tools we use. I jumped into this program with no prior knowledge on torquing or safety wire. Every day, I am more confident and am learning so much. I’m excited to come to work every day, because I know each day will be different and there are more opportunities to learn something new.
Q: What barriers have you found when trying to get into a male-dominated industry like aviation maintenance?
A: This is my first time getting into a male-dominated industry, and to be honest, the only barrier I found was myself. I doubted myself so much before coming into this program. I had so much self-doubt and fear that I wouldn’t be good at all of the things I’ve been doing. But I’ve actually shocked myself at how good I am at what I’ve been doing as an AMT apprentice. Not only that, the licensed A & P technicians are always there to answer any questions I have.
Q: What is your favorite part of LIFT?
A: My favorite part of LIFT is the family atmosphere. I don’t know anyone here in Indiana, and every time I show up for work I’m happy to see my fellow coworkers.
Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing in your training so far?
A: What I am most proud about is the fact that I can say “That plane is flying with something I fixed or replaced.“ It makes me feel so proud. I came to the United States when I was 9 years old. Not having much, I worked hard throughout the years to get to where I am now. I can definitely say I am living my dreams thanks to LIFT Academy creating this apprenticeship program.
Q: How do you see your future going after graduating the LIFT Maintenance Apprenticeship?
A: My goal after LIFT is to be an AMT at Republic Airways. The way things are going, I’m enjoying working at LIFT so much I can really see myself maybe even staying as an AMT here.
Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to your younger self about the LIFT AMT Apprenticeship Program?
A: The advice I would give my younger self is: Christy, never doubt yourself. Be confident in your work, and if you have questions, ask them! You’re as equally as capable of doing things as your fellow apprentices, so don’t hold yourself back out because of fear!