Today we take an extra special moment to celebrate aviation technicians in honor of Aviation Maintenance Technician Day! Every day these aviation heroes make sure that travelers reach their destination safely. Their job requires intense precision and skill and every successful flight is due in large part to their contribution. I was lucky enough to interview Kenneth Todd, an air maintenance technician for Classic Aviation (who is also a flight instructor!), to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on what it’s like to have this critical aviation maintenance role.
Q: Where did your passion for aviation maintenance come from?
A: For as long as I can recall, I have always been enthralled by aviation. Although I could attribute this interest to many areas, I think the main factor for me was growing up in a family filled with multiple generations of aviators. Being an aviation mechanic not only allows me to work in the field of aviation, and it allows me greater freedom to pursue my passion for flying.
Q: What is your general background, and were there things in your younger years that influenced your decision to become an aviation maintenance technician?
A: I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, just three miles off the approach end of runway 23 at Shenandoah (SHD). Throughout my childhood, I was always intrigued by all the aircraft flying over our house. This, along with a family filled with multiple generations of aviation mechanics, navigators, and pilots, instilled a deep interest in aviation within me. Early on in my teens, my Grandfather helped me become involved in the hobby of building and flying radio control aircraft.
During my late teens, I began to dabble in minor auto maintenance and small engine repair. When I ultimately started flight training, I quickly realized two things. First, I had a desire to understand aircraft and their systems better. Second, I had no desire to go into debt with flight training: becoming an aviation mechanic would allow me to remain in the industry and continue to pursue flying without incurring unnecessary debt. So far, my plan has been successful: I’ve been working as an A&P mechanic at Classic Aviation now for almost three years and have continued to build flying ratings and experience.
Q: What kind of training did you complete to become an aviation maintenance technician?
A: I completed my aviation maintenance technician training and AAS degree through Blue Ridge Community College in 2018 after a year of continual and unrelenting study. Blue Ridge not only did an excellent job of preparing me to take the required FAA written, oral, and practical exams, I believe they did an excellent job in teaching me the skills necessary to be a successful technician. I have a lot of respect for all my teachers and mentors.
A: On an average day, I may work on anything from a Cessna 150 to a Bombardier CRJ200, I may work on landing gear, or I might change a cylinder. This is why I enjoy working as a mechanic in General Aviation; I rarely ever see the same problem or job twice.
Q: What advice would you give to other people that want to become an aviation maintenance technician?
A: Becoming an A&P mechanic is not an easy task: it requires dedication, perseverance, and good character in order to be successful. These key elements are important not only because of the serious nature of aviation maintenance but also because they are necessary for dealing with customers, employers, and co-workers. I strongly encourage anyone who is considering a career in aviation maintenance to make it their goal, as I do, to further their development of these elements.
Q: Do you have any words of wisdom for people that want to become aviation maintenance technicians?
A: If you are interested in becoming an aviation mechanic, I would make several recommendations. First, there are two main methods of becoming a mechanic (training schools and apprenticeship), and there are many different opportunities available. Do your homework, and select the path that is best for you.
Secondly, there are many scholarships available to help individuals reduce the cost of aviation education. Many of these scholarships can be researched online, and the FAA offers a small list of some of the providers online at
Lastly, if you plan to have a long career in aviation maintenance, buy quality tools that will serve you throughout your career. In the long run, they’ll pay off.
A: Ultimately, I remain excited about aviation because I am blessed with the incredible opportunity to watch and operate the aircraft that I maintain. Aviation is an incredible field, and I am honored to play a small role.
Q: Is there anything you think people may be surprised to know about your job?
A: There is an incredibly diverse spectrum of aircraft within the realm of aviation. As a mechanic in general aviation, it is extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, to become an expert with every different aircraft. For this reason, the best mechanic is the mechanic who is strongly grounded in general principles and can adapt his general knowledge quickly and efficiently to each individual aircraft with the assistance of the applicable manuals.
Q: Is there anything else that’s important for people to know about you or being an aviation maintenance technician?
A: Although being an aviation mechanic can be both fun and rewarding, there is a more serious side. The aviation maintenance technician is often faced with decisions, both small and large, that play a significant role in determining the safety of both the passengers on-board, but also the safety of those on the ground. This sacred responsibility is one that we as aviation mechanics cannot and do not take lightly. Ultimately, this is the reason we celebrate Aviation Maintenance Technician Day.
If Kenneth’s interview has sparked your interest in the Aviation Maintenance Technician field, visit the Blue Ridge Community College’s Aviation Maintenance Technician Program page for more information!
We’d also like to congratulate Shenandoah Avionics, based at SHD, for recently winning the prestigious Garmin Platinum Award for Elite Performance. Only 5% of Garmin dealers worldwide receive this platinum award for sales and service. Shenandoah Avionics has been recognized by Garmin in previous years with Bronze, Silver and Gold awards for excellent service in the past, that’s why we have aircraft owners from across Virginia (and beyond) travel here to have work done. We are proud to have them based at SHD!