Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
In air station hangars across the country, hidden below a C-130 aircraft servicing the break system, or high above the fuselage of a helicopter repairing rotor blades, you will find an aviation maintenance technician (AMT).
AMTs, or flight mechanics, are responsible for maintaining and repairing the Coast Guard fleet of aircraft. To perfect their work on complicated aircraft systems, AMTs receive months of classroom and on-the-job training.
Formal training for AMTs starts at AMT “A” school at the Aviation Technical Training Center (ATTC) in Elizabeth City, N.C. ATTC serves as the conduit for the Coast Guard’s training of enlisted aviation forces and will graduate approximately 120 AMTs a year.
One of the Coast Guard’s newest AMTs is Petty Officer Third Class Kelly Dunn. Graduates from AMT “A” school have proven their understanding of complex aviation systems. Dunn, however, demonstrated her mastery on the subject further, as she graduated as class leader, honor graduate and with the academic achievement award.
“Receiving all three awards is quite an accomplishment and doesn’t happen very often,” said Senior Chief Lance Hendrix, AMT “A” school branch chief.
Dunn had dreamed of a career in aviation, but was unsure if she could pass the physical requirements due to a prior motorcycle injury. After some time as a machinery technician, she arrived at AMT “A” school with a Bachelor’s degree in aviation management, as well as a private pilot’s license.
“I enjoyed being an MK, but aviation is what I’ve always wanted to do,” said Dunn. “It was exciting to go to ‘A’ school because I felt like I was finally getting back to my desired career path.”
Over the five-month course, Dunn consistently proved her grasp of difficult topics such as aircraft maintenance fundamentals, aircraft systems and hands-on troubleshooting skills.
“During phase one, my instructor, Chief Barr, said he had never worked with another female class leader,” said Dunn. “That was motivation for me to represent myself and the other females in the Coast Guard.”
While she was at “A” school Dunn continued to pursue a Master’s degree in aeronautical science by taking classes with
. You might think that taking college classes on top of already studying a difficult curriculum at “A” school would prove detrimental, but Dunn graduated with a 98.71% – three percent higher than the number two AMT in the class. Embry Riddle University
As a graduate of “A” school, and an AMT in the fleet, Dunn is responsible for servicing aircraft and conducting routine aircraft inspections. While her work before an aircraft takes flight is fundamental, she also plays a vital role for the crew once airborne, and can fill aircrew positions such as flight engineer, flight mechanic, loadmaster, dropmaster, sensor-systems operator and basic aircrewman.
“The knowledge gained at ‘A’ school was merely a door opening to all of the skills needed on the hangar deck,” said Dunn. “I look forward to learning even more and getting qualified at my new unit.”
Members of an air station depend on each other to fulfill their specific roles in flight, and on the ground, with unsurpassed commitment. Dunn, and her mastery of aviation maintenance, attest to her endless support for mission success. Bravo Zulu to Aviation Maintenance Technician Third Class Kelly Dunn!