HBA Member "Day Jobs"

Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum

Help Support Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum:

Angusnofangus

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2015
Messages
592
Location
Victoria, Canada
I suppose my obsession with airplanes started when I was about 10 and my dad would take my brother and I out to the local airport and watch the National Guard F-89's come and go.

Joined the Navy in '68 after my draft board decided that I would be fresh meat for the grinder. Did not want to crawl through the jungles with an M-16 in my hand. Did manage to have the most exciting, and some say dangerous, jobs in the world at this time, working on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. I'm a fully paid-up member of the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club.

After getting married I thought that a stint in the Air Force would be a good idea. I went on the very first Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, and then spent three years on a German AF base with F-104's.

Came to Canada after the AF, my wife's home country, and worked for a small airline that was running Beavers and C-180's on floats. Great job until the bottom dropped out of the economy in '82.

Finally got back into aviation in '90 when I got on as a sheet metal mechanic with an outfit that had a fleet of Convair 580's and B727's. Fifteen years there before I moved to my present location, where my time was split between a local helicopter operator and the OEM of Twin Otters.

Retired three years ago, but airplanes are still in my blood.
 

Jay Kempf

Curmudgeon in Training (CIT)
Joined
Apr 13, 2009
Messages
4,504
Location
Warren, VT USA
Soloed in glider at Harris Hill when I was 14. First engineering job was at an industrial clutch company in Elmira, NY when I was just out of high school and after my first year of college. I got that job because I had a pretty large portfolio of hand drawn RC designs from my teens. Moved up to Vermont in the early 80s to get away from the hometown and because the skiing was here and UVM and am still here.

Spent most of my life working for engineered product companies until I started out on my own about 15 years ago. Got sick of watching badly managed companies treat people like crap. A bunch of years ago I took a chance on an aerospace startup. That burned down and sank into the swamp but there I met the people that I now work with every day.

Had been wanting to get into a UAV product line and so I started building a prototype and composite shop in that direction. To pay for the shop and to keep the personal boat afloat I started consulting in aviation which seems to have turned into a design and sometimes build business with some colleagues that are smarter and more credentialed than I. We seem to have developed an ability to acquire electric aircraft design projects. Been going on for a bunch of years now so probably not a fluke. It has been a strange and wonderful journey so far.

Still working on the UAV product line when customer stuff slows a bit (that's been a tough balance). Had to teach myself all manner of CNC things including building a pretty big mill for mold making and a laser and some 3D printers. Been dabbling with other CNC machines and have worked out materials and procedures for making one off tools from CAD model direct to female molds using Stretchlon, foam, 3d printed inserts, double bagging. My little composite room has piped live regulated vacuum and a layup table that is flat, smooth, airtight, and 5' x 11'. That stuff is working great.

Have more consulting work than I can do myself and it is all fun and always a brain puzzle. Not retired but my retirement plan was to play with airplanes every day and design and build vehicles. At this point that is all I do so I don't really care about whether I am retired or not. Have everything I need. Bucket list pretty well fleshed out although there are always more fun and challenging things to do.
 

cblink.007

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2014
Messages
836
Location
Maryland, USA
Started out as a draftsman for a spectator grandstand company out of high school. I started engineering studies at Cal Poly but after two years I got way too bored (and distracted) and ended up joining some group known as Uncle Sam's Misguided Children. Best decision I ever made. I was a mechanic turned crew chief (flight mechanic) on the CH-46E, ultimately went to the V-22 for its developmental testing & fielding. I got my A&P, Private Pilot, Instrument and Commercial tickets and finished my engineering degree while on active duty in the enlisted side. Made the jump to the officer ranks, became a military pilot. Worked my way into the test pilot ranks flying various fixed & rotary wing aircraft. Recently retired from active duty and now fly my Osprey as a developmental test engineering pilot for one of it's manufacturers.

One of my colleagues and I have developed an enjoyable side hustle doing aircraft recoveries for banks & brokers east of the Mississippi. Nowhere near as exciting as the fake reality show makes it to be...but we still carry!
 

fly2kads

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2010
Messages
1,909
Location
Justin, TX
I had an unconventional introduction to the world of work. My first job out of high school was in a pair of radio stations in New Mexico, where I wound up as the assistant news director. That was a great life experience, learning how the world works behind the scenes. I got to interview someone who went on to become famous. I had work published in the Albuquerque Journal, distributed by the Associated Press, and and even read verbatim by Paul Harvey on one of his shows.

I went to college and earned a degree in English, and tried my hand at technical writing. I worked on technical manuals for a company that makes specialized hardware and software for data acquisition, instrument control, and process control.

I decided I liked technology more than writing, and wound up working for the first and largest of the companies that produced Apple Macintosh-compatible computers. When Steve Jobs returned to Apple, one of the first things he did was to buy us out and shut us down, so that didn't last very long.

For most of the next dozen years or so, I worked as an IT consultant to state and local governments. I had some clients here in Texas, but also worked in state capitols from Alaska to New Hampshire. The best work was helping two states implement new case management systems to track child abuse reporting and investigations, foster care, adoptions, and private providers.

I got out of the consulting game when it became clear that I was going to wind up divorced and with custody of my kids. For the past 10 years, I have managed a software development team for a large financial services company. It's good work for a good company, so I hope I can keep doing it until retirement. That looks pretty far off, so it may be a while.
 

Kiwi_

Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2020
Messages
10
Undergrad/Postgrad --> Military Pilot --> Airline Pilot --> "The Bug" --> forced early retirement --> husband, car mechanic, builder, plumber, electrician, chicken catcher, sheep wrestler, beekeeper, brewer and when time permits, builder of aeroplanes and boats.

My definition of 'career' --> to hurtle uncontrollably downhill
 
Joined
Dec 18, 2020
Messages
29
Location
Phoenix Valley
Grew up dirt-floor poor in a tiny little Appalachian town with no exposure to anything aviation. I tried to pay for my own college after high school, and quickly found out that college really was "that expensive." Joined the USAF in my mid 20's and left home. I did 10 years active duty as an F-15 Crew Chief working flight-line, phase inspection, wheel and tire, and Aero Repair/Crash Recovery. Got out of active duty, joined the reserves, and got hired as a civilian doing exactly the same job as I was while active duty. Did that job for another 2 years. One night sitting on the couch surfing aviation jobs, I threw my resume at an F-35 job in Pax River, MD, not ever expecting an interview. Much to my surprise, they called. I entered SDD flight test for the F-35 in the summer of 2009, before we had delivered any F-35s from TX, and I have been on the program since. I am now a fielded tech rep for the F-35 at various military bases around the globe, but currently in the desert Southwest. When I joined the AF several years ago, I could not have described the difference between a Piper Cherokee and a C-5 Galaxy.
 

dwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2021
Messages
705
Location
Tennessee
Grew up dirt-floor poor in a tiny little Appalachian town with no exposure to anything aviation. I tried to pay for my own college after high school, and quickly found out that college really was "that expensive." Joined the USAF in my mid 20's and left home. I did 10 years active duty as an F-15 Crew Chief working flight-line, phase inspection, wheel and tire, and Aero Repair/Crash Recovery. Got out of active duty, joined the reserves, and got hired as a civilian doing exactly the same job as I was while active duty. Did that job for another 2 years. One night sitting on the couch surfing aviation jobs, I threw my resume at an F-35 job in Pax River, MD, not ever expecting an interview. Much to my surprise, they called. I entered SDD flight test for the F-35 in the summer of 2009, before we had delivered any F-35s from TX, and I have been on the program since. I am now a fielded tech rep for the F-35 at various military bases around the globe, but currently in the desert Southwest. When I joined the AF several years ago, I could not have described the difference between a Piper Cherokee and a C-5 Galaxy.
I grew up dirt poor in Tennessee, and I've never forgotten it. Huge motivator for me.
 

bmcj

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Messages
14,105
Location
Fresno, California
Let’s see…

As a kid, I worked in a hobby shop that sold and taught building and flying models. I also worked at the airport at the fuel pumps and at flight school office. Then I did some time marching and flying in the Air Force. Then (in approximate order) I worked at the airport teaching flying and helping in the maintenance shop (and restoring my DGA-15 basket case), and at Chino Airport restoring WW2 fighters for Pioneer Aero, Frank Sanders, Planes of Fame, and David Tallichet. Then I worked for FAA as Air Traffic Controller, than as an aero design engineer for McDonnell Douglas on the C-17 development team.

After that, my FIRST wife insisted that we move to Fresno CA, which everyone knows is (NOT) a hotbed of aviation industry, so I bit the bullet and opened a commercial print shop and developed it into a very successful strong business printing for IRS, NAVY, HUD, etc. I ran that for a decade, right up to the time my wife filed for divorce and took the business in the settlement (it was out of business six months later). I took a job with Airborne Express/ABX Air running air and ground cargo operations for the Western U.S. for 10 years (until DHL bought ABX and eventually shut it down when they found out they didn’t know how to manage the US based business.

Then I hired on with AT&T as an engineer until they farmed out their engineering to contractors 11 years later.

Now I’m fixing up a 7ac (7dc) Champ to give instruction in as a retirement job.
 
Last edited:

narfi

Well-Known Member
Log Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
1,055
Location
Alaska
Had a share in a 150 when I was 15-17, got my license and moved to Alaska working for an Air Taxi in 1997 and haven't really flown since.
Apprenticed for my A&P, got my IA, and am now DOM still with the same company.
Work keeps me busy, but still find time to build boats and started on a Zenith 750 Super Duty I wanted to scratch build, but they still don't have the plans ready yet.
 

Kyle Boatright

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2012
Messages
1,423
Location
Marietta, GA
I'm a Industrial Engineer with an MBA. I work for a large flooring manufacturer and manage a staff of tens of engineers. Early on, I worked myself into a job that fit my personality pretty well - pretty much a role that required high level forecasting, which led to building multiple factories around the world. I did a lot of the business planning, capital justification, layout, site selection, negotiating, and bidding work in the process of building ~3 million square feet of manufacturing space which probably employs a couple of thousand people. About 80% of those in the SE US, with the balance in Scotland and China. In my spare time, I led the design and construction of a lights out warehouse with all of the IT support that required. The project/construction/business growth work was much more fun than managing the folks who do the fun stuff.

Aviation wise, my father and both grandfathers worked at Lockheed, GA. If the resolution on Youtube videos was good enough, you'd be able to identify 3.5 year old me standing at the end of the runway when the C-5 made its first flight. Back in those days, open houses at Lockheed were pretty neat. I got to climb through Jetstars, C-5's, C-141's, and a ton of C-130's over the years. I also had (but shouldn't have had) insight on the Credible Sport program when I was about 15. On my last visit to Lockheed GA, I got to visit the production cell where they were assembling the F-22 prototype. So I got my aviation passion naturally. Despite that passion, I passed on a couple of aviation related jobs when I came out of college. I wanted to keep my passion separate from my worklife.

I got my license in '93, then owned a Tomahawk (a neat little airplane) with a partner, while I built my RV-6. I have an RV-10 that's ready for final assembly if it ever comes out of the paint shop, and have a Champ (7AC) that is next on the project list. I got my first airplane flight in a cousin's Champ when I was about 4, which is what drew me back to the Champ. I remember how noisy my cousin's Champ was and that I couldn't recognize a darned thing on the ground "look, our house... do you see it?" Um, no...
 

Mcmark

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2013
Messages
457
Location
Owings, MD
Dirt Bag.
Started as an operator and became a business owner for excavating and eventually general contracting.
Lost it all to the economy and divorce. Now on the dole as a project manager for a municipality doing EPA NPDES projects.
Stream restorations are becoming the main avenue for meeting the guidelines. Able to apply “fluid dynamics” to understanding design and constructibility review.
Turn the big 60 on Fri so 5 yrs to go.
 
Top