Looking back, I recall the time just after separating from active duty with the U.S. Air Force. I was attending Alabama Aviation Technical College to obtain my Airframe and Powerplant certificate. It was during this time that I was hired at Fort Rucker by the helicopter maintenance contractor that supported U.S. military helicopter pilot training. One of the first requirements of this contractor was to have a minimum tools list. As a young man just out of the military, I did not own many tools nor could I afford to buy a lot. Taking my tools list, I drove to Sears to comply with the minimum, never dreaming that in the ensuing 39 years I would collect so many thousands of dollars in hand tools, special tools, precision tools and high-end toolboxes.
As I stand here today looking at my toolbox, these questions come to mind... What is the most important tool or tools that I have acquired throughout the years? What tools have served me best? What tools have served others best? What will I recommend to those that will come after me? As I open my box to explore some of the tools that I have used over the years and continue to use today, please note that these tools are universal in principle and will not fail. These tools are not only for the business of helicopter maintenance but are beneficial in all areas of life including family. So, what are these tools we are talking about? Let’s open my top box and take a look.
First, the most important tool one can possess is integrity. Always do the right thing no matter the cost and even when no one is looking. The dictionary describes integrity as: “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.”
The question now becomes, how can anyone perform an inspection, make a repair, or make a logbook signoff without integrity. Federal Aviation Regulations are considered federal law and should not be interpreted as suggestions. It takes people with integrity to adhere to the law. When we do make a mistake, and we all will at some point, integrity requires us to own that mistake. If you take ownership of mistakes, then mistakes will never take ownership of you. In a nutshell, always do the right thing and take ownership of the situation when it goes south.
Going forward, I plan to write on additional tools from my box that will enhance safety and grow your business, and create a successful environment. In upcoming editions, we will look at these tools: commitment, communication, customer service, and personal and professional growth. We will round out the series with an overview of how these tools work synergistically and will create success for you and your company.
I am sure many of you have and use these same tools. It may be necessary for some to dig out these tools and knock the rust off, but trust me, it will be well worth the effort and the benefits will be great.
About the author: Mark dedicated the majority of his career serving the helicopter EMS community from Base Mechanic to Director of Maintenance. As Vice President & General Manager of Precision Aircraft Services, Mark now serves helicopter operators from many sectors to include Air Ambulance, Law Enforcement, Private Owners, etc. When not at work, Mark can be found spending time with his family or sitting in a tree stand.