Believe it or not, I’m nearing the halfway point of my airplane mechanic schooling. So far it has been an interesting ride. Here are some highlights from the past year.

First quarter was almost all classroom work. It’s my first time in a classroom in many years. We learned a whole 1-year high school physics curriculum in 8 days. I learned how to use a lot of measuring equipment, and how to safety wire some bolts. Until last April I didn’t know that safety wire was a thing. For those who are playing along at home, safety wire is used to keep bolts from loosening during flight or what have you. I find this reassuring and assume you do too. Here’s a picture of a simple safety wire arrangement:


The route to and from school takes me through the Duwamish Industrial Vortex. This is one of the many entertaining sights along the way:


The wrenches at school are bigger than regular wrenches. Also, pink is a perfectly acceptable color for mechanic wear:


There’s one restroom on campus that is virtually wallpapered with these signs. I don’t know what happened in there that caused the signs to be needed, but I’m guessing some custodian was traumatized:


Hardest project to date was installing an outflow valve in the school’s Jetstar. It wasn’t the valve itself that was hard, it was the location – inside a tiny compartment behind the planes lavatory:


We have very large power cords at airplane school:


I always enjoy the “power up” days. On this particular day we powered up one of the Beechcraft Twin Bonanzas in order to troubleshoot the fuel gauge system. Not the props though – I don’t get to do that until I start the Powerplant segment of the program.


Another fun day was the field trip to the Alaska Airlines maintenance hangar. You don’t realize quite how big those engines are until you stand next to one (and this is just a 737). Stay away from those babies while they’re running – you hear?


We have this device called a hydraulic mule. I was tasked with topping up the hydraulic fluid reservoir. Several hours and one near-electrocution later we had fished the filler neck fitting out of the reservoir and had the mule back up and running. Lesson learned – don’t talk to classmates while trying to simultaneously figure out the filler neck locknut and torqueing it with a giant wrench. It’s a bad combination of too much leverage and too little attention. Sorry mule!


Posted by lesherjennifer


  1. I am so inspired by your work! How cool is it to be working on planes?!?



  2. Great update, Jenn!



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