A few years ago, David Thompson was a self-employed photographer who was starting to think about looking for a job he could invest in that would provide better long-term security for him and his wife. His wife has been employed by UTC Aerospace Systems for 20 years so David had toured the facility on a number of occasions and always felt like that was a place he would like to work.
“I talked to a friend of ours who is an executive [at UTC] and I asked him how I could get a job there,” says David. “He said, ‘Well, Dave, you need to go and get your A & P license.’”
That sounded great to David, except for one small problem. He had no idea what that meant.
A quick Google search for A & P schools led him to Rock Valley College’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program.
“I had absolutely no manufacturing experience, no mechanical experience, no assembly experience,” says David.
But that didn’t stop him. He quickly immersed himself in the aviation culture and developed a deep passion for it that he never expected.
In large part he credits RVC’s aviation maintenance instructors.
“The instructors are simply amazing,” says David. “They have a passion and you feel their passion.”
David was particularly blown away by the hands-on training aspects of the program.
“Never before had I been in a situation where we’re looking at this thing we’re being taught about in the book and then the instructor takes us out in the hangar and says, ‘Here it is on the airplane.’”
He graduated from the program this past summer and within weeks landed his dream job with UTC as a Certified Assembly Technician.
“The thing that drove me to come back and thank Rock Valley and the instructors is the fact that the very first thing they trained me on at UTC is how to build a generator for a B-52 bomber. The United States Government has recommissioned the B-52 Bomber until 2024 and they’re going to need parts to keep it flying.”
In his first two weeks of training on the B-52, David discovered that he already knew how to do almost everything he was being shown by his trainer. At least five of the practicals he took to get his A & P license were directly connected with building the unit for the B-52.
“I was just overwhelmed at how prepared I was, how comfortable I felt, and how confident I was that I could do the job,” says David.