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What makes a 30 year career in aircraft maintenance? Loyalty.

January 01, 2014

Longevity is not common these days. But David Bird has been with Epps Aviation for 30 years. We sat down with David to ask him how he's had such a good run with Epps.

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At age 19, David was interested in aircraft. Family friends, the Trotters, ran a prop shop called Southeastern Propeller. When David started to ask around about working on planes, he was told "Go talk to Epps. They are usually hiring." The teenage David put in his application and got started.

His first job was detailing aircraft, washing and cleaning. But he quickly moved on from washing planes. There were apprentice mechanics working toward their licenses with on the job training. Whenever washing got slow, David would watch the mechanics and begin to learn about the most common aircraft maintenance tasks.

Seeing David's strong interest and natural aptitude for the aircraft, the shop manager said, "If you get a set of tools we will put you to work."So David enrolled in Airframe and Powerplant school and began working part-time and weekends on airplanes while he completed his education.

Eric Crossfield took David under his wing and David learned everything about thePiper Cheyenne. Epps was a Piper dealer at the time so there were a lot of those in and out of the shop getting their inspections and regular maintenance.

king-airSoon Epps started expanding and Hangar 3 was built where the old wash rack had been. The washing David had done as a young man was outsourced to others at PDK. David continued his training withCheyenne school and soon transitioned to doing King Air work. Then he was on to Lear school and more experience with the Cessna Citation.

Working on jets was more complex. The craft have more redundancy and emergency equipment. With his years of accumulated experience, David now serves as the crew chief of the jet crew.

We asked David, "How does the maintenance team see the customer?"

David replied, "You are here for one reason, make sure the customer is happy. If you don't, they will go somewhere else. Treat other people's property like you would your own. I take better care of this hangar than I do some of my own stuff! The customer is giving us money to provide a service."

David reflected on his 30 years, saying, "I've seen lots of ups and downs in the aviation business. There have been lots of companies to come and go out here. At Epps, if you have any spare time you go right away to cleaning or painting something. We keep things organized and clean."

Asked why he stayed with Epps all these years, David shared, " I've been blessed.I've always stuck with Epps, and they've always stuck with me. That's why I am still with them. I appreciate the way Epps has invested in me -- I could not have grown anywhere else the way I have grown here."

David also expressed appreciation for his coworkers, who have many years of experience in aviation and together form an exceptional crew. When not at work, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter.