It all Starts With a Choice

It came to me today to create this blog and chronicle events that take place in the aftermath of my choice (see title) to voluntarily leave (‘retirement’ to some) my 28 year airline career, that started with Republic Airlines in 1984.  September 1, 2012 is the first day of retirement and I am now down to less than 40 days as a Delta employee. I plan to share my experiences throughout my process.

A little background about career thus far to help put this all in context:

I graduated with an Associates Degree from Technical College in 1981 for Aviation Electronics (Avionics), and worked general aviation for several years.

The spring of 1984 brought a call from Republic Airlines asking if I’d like to interview for a job. Now airline work was the highest paying in my field and I jumped at the chance. In July of 1984, I started as a second shift Line/Hangar R&E (Radio/Electric) Mechanic making $9.96 per hour (this was actually a pay cut for me). R&E’s replace ‘black boxes’ and fix aircraft, get dirty, work in the heat and the cold (this was Minnesota after all), the transition from working on Lear Jets to commercial aircraft, like the DC9 was pretty easy for me. After a year of this, I got a bid as a bench technician in the Radio shop, what many on my crew called a ‘retirement shop’.

In 1986, Northwest Airlines and Republic merged. Other than union issues, this was painless for me, as the Republic maintenance program was adopted for the combined airline and I was still an avionics bench technician. In 1994 came my first divorce. My then wife left me for my friend who worked in the Radio shop with me. The dynamic with the both of us working in the same shop, and him being the union steward and all, strongly influenced me to leave the shop. After interviews and tryouts I became an Instructor in an upstart Training Department for shop personnel. I did well in this role. Both instructing and developing course material, on soldering and oscilloscope operations, which was beneficial to the same area where I had worked for the previous 10 years, Avionics.

The training gig lasted three years, when the Director of Avionics asked me if I would be interested in a third shift avionics manager position. I took this opportunity and worked less than a year on midnight shift before coming onto days as the Electric shop manager. This shop was so huge, there were two managers, about 150 guys across three shifts, and over 3,000 different parts were repaired in this shop.

After some shuffling of staff, departures, promotions, strikes, bankruptcies, and terrorist attacks, I was promoted to Avionics Operation Manager in 2004. I oversaw all three of the avionics shops, led a staff of four or five managers with a total of 60 technicians across two shifts. I was involved with decision making and planning at the highest levels of Technical Operations, along with being the point person for any avionics component issues. Then in 2008, the merger between Delta and Northwest airlines was announced and my life would never be the same. Merger ‘synergies’ commanded the consolidation of the avionics shops in Atlanta. If I was to maintain employment with Delta, I had to move South!

I will continue with my transition to Atlanta on another post. Remember, this is just a little of my story thus far…