Remembering our Aviation Docs & Mechanics
December 1, 2020
The Holiday Season is a time to reflect on the past and to take time to put things into perspective, and to celebrate life, friends and family.
It is also a time to give thanks to those who have made our lives better, those who have helped us…good or not so good…to go from one place to another.
This is also the time of year in which I schedule my annual flight physical and the annual inspections of my aircraft. I do so with some degree of trepidation, hoping that my AME will not find a disqualifying condition and that my aviation mechanic will not find a big ticket item that needs to be addressed.
It occurs to me that we hold our AME and our mechanics in somewhat the same place. We want them to be totally honest with us, but we don’t want bad news. They have considerable responsibility for our overall health and well-being.
As a physician, I am keenly aware of the years of training that goes into hanging that shingle out stating that we are a physician. I also know that when I completed medical school I was far, far away from being a savvy doc. Book learning I had. Experience I lacked.
The same is true for our aviation mechanics (aviation technicians, A&Ps), and I want to take time to recognize the importance of these fine people in an aviator’s life. I also have been around aviation long enough to know that there are significant differences between good docs and mechanics and not-so-good docs and mechanics. Both may have the credentials, but there are those who stand above the rest.
Larry Cassem has been the mechanic/A&P/IA who I have entrusted to keep my super cub (also Santa’s super cub) in safe flying condition. Larry recently told me it is time for him to pass the wrench to someone else, and I found a terrific mechanic to take the baton, so to speak, from Larry. Larry is a soft-spoken gentleman who served our Country in the Navy and who has had a wealth of experience and possesses a wealth of knowledge. He is extremely capable and he has always given more than a hoot about the quality of his work as he has maintained my cub. I have always felt confident that when he tells me my aircraft is airworthy and safe, it is just that. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff, but he also never scrimps from a safety perspective.
We are facing a very serious decrease in the number of aviation mechanics in general aviation. We have far too few schools for aviation technicians and we need to change this and inspire young people…men and women…to enter this field. It is my feeling that this has reached a critical level and this is reinforced when I see aviation repair shops closing and wise people like Larry retiring.
I hope that the Minnesota Pilots Association can work to address this situation and insure a healthy future for aviators!