Congratulations to Emily Griffith Technical College alumnus, Don, for winning a 3- year lease on a brand new 2-Door Hardtop from Schomp Automotive! Here is Don’s Story:

PC: Schomp Mini

Growing up in Michigan, Don always assumed he would follow in his father’s footsteps and work in automobile manufacturing.

But when Don graduated high school in the early 80s, the Detroit unemployment rate was 23.6% and the Ford plant his father worked at was laying off employees.

“My dad said, ‘Sorry kid,’ and I new I needed a new plan,” Don said.

It was in that moment that Don’s dream of being an aircraft mechanic was born.

“I think planes are one of the most amazing machines, it’s incredible how far they can travel and how fast they can fly,” Don said.

Don moved to Colorado to escape Michigan’s dire employment rates and began pursing his dream of aircraft maintenance. But the only programs he could find cost thousands of dollars.

“The aircraft mechanic programs might as well have cost millions of dollars, I didn’t have the money and no one was offering scholarship help,” Don said.

So Don dabbled in the food industry before starting his own remodeling business, all the while pining to work on airplanes.

After undergoing several surgeries and on the brink of turning 50, Don realized he needed a new career path that was easier on his body.

One of Don’s co-workers told him about Emily Griffith Technical College and Don found the school’s Aviation Maintenance program.

“The program had a lot of hands on training which is how I learn best,” Don said. “I felt that Emily Griffith prepared me really well for my new career.”

In March of 2013, Don completed the Aviation Maintenance program and was soon hired by Centennial Aircraft Services, where he has worked ever since.

Don services nearly 50 different aircraft spanning a half dozen types.

“It’s like playing with big toys. It’s so fun, it doesn’t feel like work,” said Don.

Though he finds his work very enjoyable, Don explains how his job is one of precision.

“Though it’s fun, I take my job very seriously. I triple check all my work. With a plane, if something goes wrong, you cant just pull over. Everything has to be right,” Don said.

Don recently bought a 2-seater Diamond Aircraft and is working on earning his pilot’s license.

“The worst thing you can do in life is not take a chance,” Don said. Don’s risk of making his dream job his second career is paying off.

“Being in my mid 50s, I really appreciate having this job now. Most everything on a plane is very light, so I see myself continuing to work into my 60s, maybe even my 70s,” Don said.

“It’s been kind of amazing how I was able to become an aircraft mechanic after all these years,” Don said.