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Next destination: Seeking answers along the wires

Middletown, Pennsylvania (MDT) Lead Avionics Technician Tony Wagman follows in his father’s footsteps maintaining machines but took it a step farther by pursuing a passion to work on aircraft systems. Tony learned machine repair skills from his Dad and his previous career working on air conditioning systems that he uses in his avionics role at Piedmont.

Originally from York, Pennsylvania, Tony was one of nine children whose father worked in machine maintenance for Caterpillar, the world’s largest construction equipment manufacturer. “I was always taking things apart and trying to put them back together,” says Tony. “I definitely got the maintenance gene from my Dad.” They worked on vehicles together before his father passed away when Tony was a teenager.

After graduating high school, Tony worked in a local machine shop and then went to work at Harley Davidson as a screw machine operator and in their tool room before being laid off. Tony decided to attend school and obtained his certification to install and service heating and air conditioning units. During this time, he acquired his private pilot’s license. After eight years in the air conditioning business, Tony decided he wanted to pursue a career in aviation maintenance.

“I’ve had a passion for aviation since I was young and since I was mechanically inclined, decided I wanted to work on aircraft,” reflects Tony. He attended the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics (PIA), earned his associate degree in Aviation, and received his Airframe and Powerplant license. In 1990, he joined Allegheny Airlines as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) working on Shorts 330s, 360s and Fokker 27s. While laid off briefly in 1994, he obtained his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license, which enables him to work on avionics systems. “I wanted to learn avionics because I was interested in learning more about aircraft systems and how they work.”

In 1995, he rejoined Allegheny in MDT and transferred to the Avionics department in 2018. From his prior work on machines and eight years working on air conditioning units, Tony brings a wealth of mechanical experience to his role in Maintenance. “Repairing machines and air conditioning units is where I learned how to troubleshoot which helps me daily in my Avionics job,” says Tony. “When there is a problem with any system on the aircraft, it’s my job to trace the wires, find the problem and solve it to get the aircraft flying.” Tony shares that in the air conditioning business, it took patience and thinking things through carefully to locate the problem, which he also does with each aircraft he works on. “You have to be patient when tracing wires, but you have to do it to figure out what isn’t working between point A and point B. Sometimes it takes days to solve a problem because of something small therefore patience and attention to detail are key.”

Sometime problems require more than one shift to complete. “Good communication skills are essential when logging turnover to the next shift,” says Tony. “I have to explain the problem in writing and verbally on where I left off to the next shift similar to how my communication skills were important when dealing with customers in the air conditioning business.”

He takes pride in repairing everything from radar systems and headsets, to emergency batteries. He enjoys being a problem-solver in the Maintenance department and working for Piedmont. He utilizes his company travel benefits to travel all over the world on mission trips with his church.

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Next Destination is a Piedmont feature series that highlights our aviation professionals who joined Piedmont after working in a different career field. Piedmont is proud to recognize our team members for their contributions to the success of the airline.