Trans States Mechanic Helps Save a Life in Midair

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STL hangar mechanic Mike Russell

Prior to his career as a Trans States A & P mechanic, Mike Russell was an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in New York City for over two decades.  Mike’s job at Trans States comes with American Airlines travel benefits, which he recently used to fly to Kingston, Jamaica to visit family.  Little did he know that during the trip, he would need to put his EMT training to work to help save a life in midair.

During the first leg of his trip, a flight from St. Louis to Miami, a passenger began experiencing shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms of a potentially serious medical condition.  When a flight attendant asked if any of the passengers had medical training, Mike and a doctor on board jumped into action.  Mike assisted the doctor in caring for the passenger until the flight could divert to Atlanta and the passenger could receive medical attention on the ground.

American Airlines was very impressed with Mike’s selfless actions, and sent him the below note of appreciation, as well as a voucher for future travel.

Dear Mr. Russell:

Please accept our company’s formal “Thank You” for the assistance you provided aboard your recent flight. We are all grateful that you were on board and freely offered your medical expertise when it was needed most. Without a doubt, you greatly improved a difficult situation.

As an expression of our appreciation for volunteering your time and experience, we’ve made arrangements for an eVoucher for you to use toward the purchase of a ticket to travel with us. I realize your offer of assistance was not motivated by any potential reward. Nevertheless, we wanted you to know how much your efforts were appreciated.

Whether it’s in our hangar or in the air, Mike can always be counted on to put others first.  We’re proud that he’s part of our team.

Trans States Inspires High School Students to Become the Next Generation of Aviators

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Students from McClure High School in St. Louis get a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes on in our maintenance hangar.

This spring, Trans States had the opportunity to welcome math students from McCluer High School in St. Louis to our corporate offices and hangar facility for the third year in a row.  Their instructor, Jenna Henderson, is a lifelong aviation enthusiast, who started organizing annual field trips to Trans States after learning about aviation career opportunities from her neighbor, Jan McCall.

Jan, a former Trans States pilot turned Aviation Studies professor, suggested that Jenna encourage her students to consider aviation as a career path.  The industry is facing a severe shortage of qualified personnel, and a recent study by Boeing projects extraordinary demand for pilots, mechanics and flight attendants over the next 20 years.  Jan proposed a field trip to Trans States’ St. Louis headquarters so that Jenna’s students could see first hand all of the different aviation career opportunities that they could pursue right in their hometown.

Even though many of Jenna’s students had never even flown before, let alone considered aviation as a career, she jumped at chance to visit Trans States with her students.  “Trans States is in my students’ backyard, and it offers many career paths that they may not even know about,” she explained.  An annual tradition was born.

This year’s tour included a tour of the cabin trainer that our flight attendants use to practice everything from the beverage service to emergency evacuation drills, as well as a demonstration of the Graphical Flight Simulators that our pilots use during training.

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Students also toured Systems Operations Control (SOC), where they learned about career opportunities in Dispatch, Crew Scheduling and Maintenance Control.  During the SOC tour, the students spoke with McCluer alum and Maintenance Controller Bryan Cross, who told the students about his career and the steps that he took to get where he is today.

The highlight of the trip is always the visit to the Trans States hangar facility, where students have the opportunity to get hands on with our Embraer 145 aircraft and watch our mechanics in action.  For many of the students, it’s the first time that they’ve ever been near an airplane.  “I’ve never been around this type of environment before,” student Carlando Dickens remarked.  “It’s different and interesting.”

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The trip is also a great opportunity for Jenna to show her students how the math skills they are learning in class will be important later in life.  This resonated with student Megan Robinson, who remarked, “It’s really interesting to see how the mechanics basically have to take the entire plane apart, and then put it back together.  With all of the measurements that they have to do, it makes sense that they would have to understand mathematical problem solving.”

Her classmate, Hailey Drake, agreed.  “I’m glad to see that what we learn in school becomes important later on in life,” she added. “Being able to use math calculations can help you do what you want to do for a living, just like the mechanics I’m meeting today.”

Assisting with the field trip was future Trans States pilot Adam Lange.  Adam, who is part of Trans States’ Aviators program for aspiring collegiate pilots, enjoyed the chance to teach people about the airline industry.  “I don’t remember ever having an opportunity like this when I was in school,” he admits. “It’s important that kids know about the options that exist in their own hometown.”

Trans States Chief Operating Officer Fred Oxley couldn’t be happier about the annual visit from the McCluer students.  “As an industry, it is our duty to inspire the next generation of aviators,”  he said.  “In the coming years, I hope to encounter these students flying our planes, fixing our planes, and serving our passengers.”

To learn more about career opportunities at Trans States, please click here.

Mechanic Chris Gage Goes Above and Beyond to Reunite Lost Wallet with its Owner

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When maintenance found a wallet on one of our aircraft without any contact details for the owner, Trans States mechanic Chris Gage went above and beyond to track down the owner.

As the former CEO of Baxter International, and now a professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg school of Management, I was truly surprised about something that recently happened to me.  I was on a United flight in one of your planes from Chicago to Charlotte, and when I arrived at my hotel, I discovered I had lost my wallet for the first time in 50 years. 

I called United, they searched the plane and found nothing.  I was going to cancel all of my credit cards and stop payment on the several checks in my wallet, but I was running to give a speech and didn’t have time. Since my phone number was not in my wallet, I gave up hope. To my complete surprise, the next day I received a call from Chris Gage.

He told me that one of his colleagues had found the wallet, and he wanted to send it to me ASAP.  When I asked how he located me, he stated that he had tried a number of ways to track me down, and when he found an AAA card in the wallet, he called them and was able to obtain my mobile number. 

I have never met Chris Gage, but he struck me as a true values-based person, someone the world clearly needs more of. 

When I thanked him, he told me he was just doing his job and didn’t need to be thanked.

Chris represents the values that drive us as a company – integrity, honesty, and perseverance.  Chris is just one of hundreds of Trans States employees around the country going above and beyond for our passengers each and every day.

Trans States and Southwestern Illinois College Collaborate to Prepare Students for Aviation Careers

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A SWIC Academic Advisor gets a demonstration of the state-of-the-art simulators used by Trans States pilots.

Interested in a career in aviation?  Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) offers a number of affordable aviation career programs, including Aviation Management, Aviation Maintenance Technology, and Aviation Pilot Training.  These programs have been designed to prepare students to jump right into their chosen field upon completion of their coursework.  “Our biggest focus is for students to be comfortable, as well as successful, in the airline training environment by the end of a two to four-year program,” says Keith Mueller, Coordinator of Aviation Flight Management at SWIC.

When SWIC aviation instructors want to show their students how their work in the classroom relates to their future careers, they bring their students to our corporate headquarters in St. Louis, for a behind-the-scenes look at the skills required to land a job at a commercial airline.

A typical visit includes a tour of the Trans States maintenance hangar and a demonstration of the state-of-the-art simulators that our pilots use during training.  Students also have the opportunity to meet company leadership, as well as talk with our various training departments about what a commercial airline will expect of them.

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“These visits are incredibly valuable because they allow students to make a connection between what they’re learning in class and the skills that will be required in their chosen field,” explains Keith Stamper, Director of Flight Operations at Trans States.  For example, when touring our maintenance hangar, students in SWIC’s Aviation Maintenance Technology program can actually see Trans States mechanics utilizing the skills that they’re studying in school.

These visits are also valuable to SWIC faculty, as they help ensure that the skills taught in class are consistent with current industry standards.  Aviation is an ever-changing industry, which means that aviation training programs must be able to quickly change with the times.  SWIC’s relationship with Trans States ensures that SWIC instructors are always up-to-speed on the latest training and skills that airlines will expect of their graduates, allowing them to adapt their courses accordingly.

SWIC Academic Advisors also get the same behind-the-scene tour as students and instructors.  Academic Advisors are usually a student’s first point of contact with the school, and are responsible for helping students navigate the different program offerings.  “Our Academic Advisors tour Trans States so that they can better understand how our aviation programs will prepare students for the airline industry,” Mueller explains.  “We feel that these tours have been tremendously successful.”

SWIC’s partnership with Trans States couldn’t have come at a better time.  Demand for aviation careers, especially pilots and mechanics, is at an all-time high, and that demand is expected to rise even higher in the coming years.  Boeing estimates that to keep up with demand, the aviation industry will need to generate over 600,000 commercial pilots and 679,000 aircraft maintenance technicians before the year 2035.

There’s never been a better time to launch a career in aviation.  If you’re looking for an affordable aviation training program that will prepare you for an exciting and in-demand career, contact SWIC today.  We’re looking forward to hiring you when you finish.

Trans States Mechanics Form Local Floor Hockey Team

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The type of hockey that most of us are familiar with has few non-negotiable requirements.  Ice, for one, and skates.  And knowing how to skate is usually pretty helpful.  However, a group of Trans States mechanics has discovered that you don’t have to know how to skate, or even own a pair of ice skates, to play hockey.  They play floor hockey as part of a local St. Louis floor hockey league.

While floor hockey players use sticks to get a puck into a net guarded by a goalie, that’s where the similarity to ice hockey ends.  There’s no ice in sight in floor hockey – teams typically play in gymnasiums – and floor hockey players simply wear shoes and run around, rather than using ice skates.

Heavy Check Supervisor Mark Hicks got the idea to start the team after seeing a video for St. Louis Floor Hockey on the internet.  Our maintenance hangar is in St. Louis, home of the Blues professional hockey team, and Mark knew that a lot of mechanics were interested in hockey, even if they’d never played before.  Mark first pitched the idea of a team to Line Lead Mechanic Levi Mcquery, who initially thought that he was too old for floor hockey.  However, once he watched the video, which explained that most of the teams were comprised of college students or co-workers, and that some of the players had never even played hockey before, he was sold.  Before long, Mark had rounded up a team of 10 mechanics, all from the St. Louis hangar.

Half of the team had never even touched a hockey stick before, let alone played on a team. “One mechanic had never played hockey before in his life,” says Mark, “and he still tried it out, and loved it.”  But even with so many hockey newbies, Line  Inspector Bill Reese is confident that their team is making progress, remarking, “I think we get better every game!”

“I would never bet on us, though,” chimes in Levi, laughing, “and I’m always making stupid bets on professional ice hockey, like having to shave ‘Red Wings’ in the back of my head.”

The league’s no checking rules means that floor hockey isn’t nearly as physical as ice hockey, which Mark points out is great for people who have day jobs.  “We can’t exactly get too physical at a night game when we all have work the next day.”

The team has already experienced some memorable plays. “I got us our first ever penalty,” laughs Bill, “and I still don’t agree with it.

Other mechanics from the hangar don’t play, but still come out to watch.  And if they want to try it for themselves before committing to a team, league rules make it easy for them to give it a shot and see how they like it  – anyone can play a single game as a substitute for only $10.

Feel up to the challenge?  Check out the St. Louis Floor Hockey website to get started.