The AMTSociety's 6th Annual Maintenance Skills Competition (MSC) was held in the Las Vegas Convention Center this March 13 – 15th, 2013. The MSC again had representatives of our craft & profession from around the world with men and women from Australia, Canada, China and the United States competing in 5 categories. By coming to the MSC these professionals are helping to promote a positive, informative and professional image of today's skilled Aircraft Maintenance Technicians and Aircraft Maintenance Engineers to the public and to a certain extent our own industry.
The teams that come to the MSC are representatives from across the aircraft maintenance world and these teams are sponsored by their respective organizations and companies. Some companies sponsor more than one team such as FedEx who again fielded three different teams and the Aviation Institute of Maintenance Schools who fielded seven teams from amongst their campuses. The Military Category had teams scheduled to compete representing the United States Navy, United States Air Force, United States Army and United States Coast Guard. The USCG even had an event sponsored for the 2013 MSC. But with sequestration in effect the result was that the funding for all the Military teams was rescinded. The Military Category for the 2013 MSC was now empty because of a lack of funds.
Being asked to represent a company in a venue such as the Maintenance Skills Competition is an honor for any AMT or AME. Being chosen for the MSC is in effect being chosen to represent your company and organization and to show a professional image and high levels of skill and knowledge during the MSC. To be chosen and then told you could not go was, I'm sure, a hard dose of bad news for the men and women in the Military Category. But without funding what could these Military Aircraft Maintainers do?
In the case of the United States Coast Guard one of the two teams decided to take matters into their own hands. The team from Station Clearwater FL believed that the USCG needed to be represented. They asked their Commanders if they could represent the USCG if they went on their own. The answer was yes and the planning went into action. The team members who had been chosen to represent Station Clearwater FL used their own personal time and money for air fare, hotels, food and entry fee for the MSC. These Coast Guardsmen felt so strongly that the USCG needed to be represented they took it upon themselves to stand tall for their Branch of the US Military.
By competing in the 2013 MSC as the only team in the Military Category would certainly focus attention on their actions. No one questioned that they would come in 1st Place by default but rather what was answered was the USCG team member's passion and pride in being Aircraft Maintainers. The actions of the team from Station Clearwater FL does not diminish the passion and pride of other Maintainers in the other Branches of the US Military in the slightest. Rather what it accomplishes is it raises the level of pride and passion. The following USCG Servicemen need to be recognized for their actions.
AMT 1 Jim Fielder
AMT 1 James Bastick
AMT 2 Dani Church
AET 2 Michael Bosch
AET 2 Andrew Poulin
But this story doesn't stop here as an example of actions speaking louder than words. The MSC is a world class venue for showcasing skills needed to provide safe, airworthy aircraft worldwide. But the competition is also a stage where camaraderie and honor are on display. And FedEx stepped up to the plate this year to drive this point home. Prior to the announcement of the final scores the members of all three FedEx Teams passed the hat around to raise several hundred dollars which was presented to the USCG Team to help with their expenses related to competing.
In taking 1st Place in the Commercial Aviation Category FedEx Team LAX was presented with 1st Place plaques as well as multiple tools provided by Snap-On Tools, Shure-Step Step Stool, World Clocks from Crane Aerospace. The score FedEx Team LAX finished with also earned them the coveted William F. “Bill” O'Brien Award for Excellence in Aircraft Maintenance. This is a trophy named after the FAA ASI that created the Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award. Along with the trophy are even more prizes sponsored by Snap-On Tools, Silvertronic , Top Flight Watches, ProBuilt Lighting and PPG Aerospace.
The PPG Aerospace prize was having the entry fee for the 2014 MSC paid for the recipient's of this award. After receiving the PPG award the FedEx LAX Team called the members of the USCG Team up on stage and offered the award to them so they could help fund competing for the 2014 competition. This was both a classy and honorable action on the part of the FedEx Teams.
All of the Technicians, Engineers and Students competing in the 2013 MSC let their actions of competing speak for their belief in promoting our craft. The actions of FedEx spoke for the brotherhood these professionals call their own.
By Ken MacTiernan