Looking back at my 26-year Army career, I have many things to be proud of, and only one regret. Before getting accepted to Army Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS) and then U.S. Army Flight School as a newly minted Warrant Officer One (W1), I was an Army Crew-chief/technician. I first worked on Cobras, and then moved on to Black Hawks and Little Birds (MD500). This leads me to my regret: before getting accepted to WOC School I was working on my FAA Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) Certificate, but once I was selected, in my short sightedness, I didn’t finish my A&P because I was going to be a pilot and didn’t need my A&P.
Many companies would be very interested in a pilot that is also an A&P. If an issue is encountered away from base, you don’t have to pull an A&P off another job and fly them in, one is already on the scene. There is currently a large shortage of A&Ps in the helicopter industry and this number will only continue to increase. As a crew-chief you are doing yourself and your family a disservice if you leave the military without it.
Basically there are three options to getting your A&P:
You can go to an aviation school or to a university that has an aviation school and get your 2-year associates degree while getting your A&P using your GI Bill. There are many universities now that have aviation programs, Embry-Riddle, University of North Dakota, and Southern Utah University to name a few. Coupled with the new benefits the GI Bill affords, mainly getting your schooling and books paid for, and getting paid while going to school, it’s not a bad way to go.
The Joint Services Aviation Maintenance Technician Certification Council (JSAMTCC) is established by the Community College of the Air Force to serve as a liaison and an advisory board to the aviation maintenance divisions of the U.S. military and the FAA. The JSAMTCC recommends qualified and eligible personnel of the U.S. Armed Forces to the FAA for the FAA Mechanic Certificate with Airframe & Power Plant (A&P) ratings.
An applicant holding the JSAMTCC “Certificate of Eligibility” (Form CG-G-EAE-4) is authorized to take the Knowledge and Oral/Practical test without an endorsement in “Block V of the 8610-2”. Furthermore, the applicant can use the GI Bill to pay for their exam.
The best part of this option is as an aviation MOS holder you are eligible for the program, all you have to do is document the hours you work and document all the training you receive. For more information of this program please contact Mr. Kevin Gasway at firstname.lastname@example.org or (757) 878-5422. Tell him I sent you.
The final option is to go to an A&P prep course. These courses are between two and three weeks long and cost generally between $900 and $3,000, but some may be paid for with the GI Bill as well. Just like Option 2, you will need to have an aviation MOS as well as documentation of your hours worked and training received. Contact your local A&P School for details on their requirements.
To some, these options may seem like a lot of work and a huge investment. Look at it this way: it’s a huge investment in your future. Leaving this civilian certification behind will limit your future salary as well as possibilities for advancement. Now if you are reading this and you are a military pilot or in a military aviation leadership position, please encourage your technicians to take advantage of these programs. It will make them a better technician while they are in the service, and it will also set them up for a successful career beyond their service.