Do You Have to be in Shape to be an Aircraft Mechanic?
“I’m Sexy and I know it, I work Out!” -LMFAO
Being an aircraft mechanic, or any kind of mechanic for that matter, can take a toll physically on our bodies. It’s no secret that we work hard at what we do to make aircraft safe to fly. Sure, nowadays large portion of the job is sitting at a computer entering maintenance tasks into a computer log book or using maintenance manuals, but the hard, dirty work of aircraft maintenance remains the same.
Aircraft mechanics in the military have an advantage as they are always performing physical training. Separating from the military often times that exercise stops. I know for me, I quit running and working out for a long period after getting out of the military. Well, I did work on my 12 ounce curls but that’s another story.
Being in shape means many different things to people. Some have told me, “I am in shape, round is a shape isn’t it?” For others, working out is a part of the regular daily routine. Some go for gaining muscle mass while other train more for endurance such as running or cycling. Lucky for us, being an aircraft mechanic does not require that we perform a triathlon on the weekends. I would probably say, most aircraft mechanics are pretty much out of shape, and by that I mean we lack normal physical exercise on a routine basis.
Physical Challenges Aircraft Mechanics Face
The physical challenges that many aircraft mechanics face are not so much strength related but more in terms of endurance. This is a career that can take
a toll not only physically but mentally as well. I don’t mean that necessarily everyday is a grueling experience, well I hope not for your sake anyways, but there can be days where there is a rush to get the aircraft back in service. One these days, you can pretty much guarantee that you did not sleep well the night before or you are starting to catch a cold or something. It seems like it always happens that way. This is why it is a good idea to have a decent level of endurance so you can not only complete the job physically, but you are still working smart and safe mentally.
Ask any working aircraft mechanic and they will probably have a few “favorite jobs” that extort great physical pain on their bodies. Each aircraft have a few of these type jobs. It is almost as is the engineers who designed the system were sitting around trying to find ways to make the job harder and torture the mechanic. These are the jobs that engineers get cussed at. Some jobs are just nearly impossible and require a certain mechanic to do it because of their physical abilities.
While in the Army working on the Chinook, There was one safety I just could not do and always had to ask this another mechanic to do. It was a bleed screw on one of the I.L.C.A, (a mess of hydraulic components that controlled the advanced flight controls). I think my friend was a yoga master because he was able to squeeze his hand in the area and install the safety wire.
Reasons for Being Healthy
The bigger the aircraft, the bigger the parts and tools you will be using. You will have to climb, bend and lift those tools and parts unto and into the aircraft. It will be dark, cold and miserable. Being in decent shape can help alleviate some of this. Not only will you face these challenges, you will also be required to repair the aircraft according to the maintenance manuals and applicable reference materials.
There is also the perception of being overweight that can hamper your career outlook.
Aircraft Mechanic Perception
Lets face it, the way we look matters. People judge others by the way the look and carry themselves. Being severely out-of-shape can hurt your abilities to either get promoted or even hired in the first place. People view fat people as being lazy and in some cases it is true, but then again, thin ones are lazy too. Some of the hardest working aircraft mechanics I know are of the larger body types. Since there is this stereotype out there, it is a good idea to get in the best shape as you can. This will not only help your career but also make you feel better about yourself. I know from experience, when I do get into a routine of working out, I walk a little taller and stand a little straighter. Exercise does wonders for your confidence.
So we have learned you do not need to be a muscle-head to be an aircraft mechanic. If you are already one of those types, I salute you and I wish I could do the same. Instead, being an aircraft mechanic requires more endurance. Think along the lines of the turtle and the hare race. Slow, steady and safe. Sure, it might be a long day but when you return the aircraft to service, you will feel much better knowing you did not rush the job. If you are completely out of shape, try the best you can do gain some sort of control over your weight. Working on aircraft can be hard work. The chances of you working in an air-conditioned hangar are small, you will probably be outside in the cold and heat. Try contracting overseas and you will see what I mean.
Management does not care that the aircraft was engineered in such a way that you will be in great physical pain, they just want the dang aircraft back in service. This is where in many cases this is a young mans game. Some one once told me, “you need to have the endurance of a young man and the knowledge of an old one”.
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