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Behind the Wings: Finding your own way

Quality Control Inspector Kelly Ferry was the only female mechanic at Piedmont’s Richmond maintenance base when she started in April 2017. Since then, her only regret was not considering a career in aviation maintenance when she was younger. At age 33, she obtained her Airframe and Powerplant license, joined Piedmont and thrived in navigating her way through the traditionally male-dominated industry of aviation maintenance.

Originally from New York, Kelly moved to Norfolk, Virginia in 2012. She enjoys working with her hands and wanted to find a stable career to support herself and her young son. She heard radio advertisements about the Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) in Norfolk and decided to visit the school to learn more. “Working on planes sounded interesting and something I could see myself doing, so I decided to enroll,” Kelly shares.

Kelly describes her time at AIM as a positive experience. “There were only a few other women in the class, but I didn’t mind,” says Kelly. “The instructors were great and did a good job preparing us for tests which made a difference in my performance. In addition, the career counselor helped me prepare my resume to launch my maintenance career.”

Kelly heard from a current Piedmont employee that the company was a great place to work. After obtaining her Airframe and Powerplant license, she moved to Richmond to join Piedmont as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician (AMT) in 2017. She then became a quality control inspector after two years of turning wrenches.

Kelly says that being a female in a male-dominated industry makes her feel like she has to work hard to prove herself but shares that being older, she has more confidence than the traditional aged mechanic right out of school. “A mechanic approached me once when he saw me trying to lift a piece of heavy equipment and asked if he could lift it for me,” shares Kelly. “I appreciated his kind offer, but I told him it was my job and I would figure it out. Sometimes you have to be a little assertive and find your own way of doing things. I don’t want to be treated differently by my coworkers just because I am a woman.”

Kelly enjoys her job as a quality control inspector and is comfortable with her knowledge of aircrafts. She recommends a career in aircraft maintenance to anyone who appreciates working with their hands and wants to try something new. “Don’t be afraid to enter this industry. Although many aircraft maintenance technicians are male, I feel like that perception is slowly going away with more women entering this career field. There is no reason why a woman can’t do this job. I wish I would’ve done this sooner.”

Piedmont Airlines is looking to attract diverse talent to the aviation maintenance field and one way is through their new Tuition Payment Program. This program provides future mechanics with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend AIM Norfolk or other partner school with their tuition and fees paid.  In addition, Piedmont also guarantees a job after obtaining an Airframe and Powerplant license through the Tuition Payment Program.  Anyone can apply as long as you have an interest in being an AMT.  Learn more by clicking here.

Behind the Wings is a Piedmont feature that highlights the accomplishments of the aviation professionals who make us Piedmont Proud inside and outside the airport. In honor of Women’s History Month, Piedmont is proud to recognize our female team members and their contributions to the success of the airline and making a difference in their communities.