Former Marine Turned Aircraft Mechanic and College Student: Meet Brandi Rector

Brandi Rector
Trans States Airlines Aircraft Mechanic Brandi Rector

Before becoming a aircraft mechanic for Trans States Airlines, Brandi Rector spent six years in the United States Marine Corps as a helicopter aerial gunner and mechanic.  Now she dedicates her time to ensuring that our aircraft operate safely and efficiently, all while attending full-time classes at Saint Louis University.

Brandi didn’t originally plan on an airline job when leaving the military.  After her last deployment, Brandi returned home to St. Louis with plans to become a police officer. However, she soon found herself back in aviation after being hired by helicopter manufacturing company Sikorsky. “It was a desk job,” explains Brandi, “and after coming home from my deployment, sitting at a desk all day was making me stir crazy.  Then I learned about Saint Louis University’s helicopter pilot program.”

Saint Louis University, in partnership with Midwest Helicopter, offers a helicopter training program that can be paired with any undergraduate degree. Brandi began the program in the fall of 2015, and is set to graduate in the spring of 2018 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Aeronautics, with a focus in Aviation Management.  When she graduates, she will also be an FAA-certified helicopter pilot, with private, commercial, instructor and  instrument ratings.

While Brandi receives much of her academic funding through the G.I. Bill, it doesn’t cover everything.  Luckily, Brandi had earned her Airframe & PowerPlant license while in the military, which enabled her to  supplement her G.I. funding by becoming a Trans States Airlines aircraft mechanic. There’s no danger of Brandi going stir crazy from sitting behind a desk at this job – she’s up and moving throughout her entire shift. As a heavy check mechanic, Brandi performs scheduled inspections on aircraft once they reach a certain number of hours.  “We perform top-to-bottom aircraft checks and inspections on everything from oxygen masks and engine components, to flight control cables and hydraulic systems,” she explains.  “We check everything to make sure the aircraft continues to stay safe for flight.”

Brandi enjoys the variety that her job brings.  “In the Marines, I worked strictly on engines and gear boxes,” she said.  “But at Trans Sates, I get to work on everything.”  She went on to remark, “I’ve got to say, I really enjoy my job.  Everyone that I work with is incredibly nice, friendly, and helpful.”

Brandi is busy, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.  “It’s tough,” she says, “but it doesn’t matter if I don’t have much free time, because I love what I do. I feel rewarded knowing that all the work that I do provides safety for so many people who travel, and I feel accomplished when I make straight-A’s after studying so much and so hard.” Brandi also emphasizes the importance of having a strong support system.  “My dad provided a lot of encouragement that helped me when I needed it. So, no matter what you decide to do, make sure you have the support you need.”

When she’s not working or studying, Brandi has several animals that she enjoys taking care of. “I’m working on building a barn right now,” she explains, “which will be for my horse. I also have two huskies, and I recently rescued a kitten.”  She also became a member of Women With Wings, the St. Louis chapter of Women in Aviation, in April. “It’s a great group for networking,” she says,” and they’re starting to do a lot more charity events.  After I receive my instructor rating, I’ll hopefully be able to pilot some charity flights for them, as well as for the Whirly-Girls, an association of women helicopter pilots.”

We’re proud that Brandi has chosen to share her talents with us, and we couldn’t be more impressed by everything that she’s accomplished.  If you’ve got an A & P license and a desk job isn’t for you, give us a call.  We offer skilled maintenance professionals like Brandi top-tier pay, and we pay extra for experience.  We’d love to talk to you about everything our company has to offer.  Click  here to learn more.

A “Shocking” Optical Illusion…


Airline employees are generally not fans of severe weather, given the inevitable operational consequences. But even airline employees can appreciate the incredible photo ops that severe weather can bring!  Materials Clerk Sierra McCoy snapped this photo at our maintenance hangar during a thunderstorm that rolled through St. Louis Tuesday. It may look like the lightning bolt struck one of our planes, but it appears that even Mother Nature loves to trick others with optical illusions!

New LED Lighting in Hangar Equates to $34,000 Rebate

Recently Trans States Airlines replaced the high-usage lighting in the maintenance hangar with more energy efficient LED lighting.  As a result, the company was eligible to participate in Ameren Missouri’s BizSavers program, which offers cash incentives to business that implement cost-effective and environmentally friendly energy solutions.

“Trans States is always trying to be more environmentally conscious and energy efficient,” said Matt Wright, Director of Maintenance for Trans States.  “And an added benefit is that the new LED lights have saved us a considerable amount of money on the hangar’s electric bill.”  The installation of the LED lights ultimately equated to a rebate of over $30,000, which Ameren Missouri representatives presented to Matt and Trans States Airlines President & CEO Rick Leach earlier this week.

Ameren also offers a variety of cash rebates to homeowners who make environmentally friendly updates to their homes. Ameren will also haul away your old fridge or freeze for free, plus pay you $50.00, just for letting them take it off your hands.  To learn more about how you can earn money by saving money, visit

Trans States Mechanics Go Above and Beyond

thank you post it
A big thanks to Trans States mechanics Bryan Kalwei and Eric Ratliff for going above and beyond to assist with the 805HK lease return.  We received this 4th Quarter Above & Beyond nomination from Scott Reid:

I would like to put Bryan Kalwei, and Eric Ratliff in for the Above and Beyond program. These two mechanics were scheduled to help with 805HK lease end by flying with the aircraft on Friday morning 10-31-14 and perform two Boroscopes at a outstation for the lessor to close the lease. The aircraft had mechanical issues on Friday, and they both stayed late trying to fix it. They both returned to work early Saturday morning and helped fix the aircraft and flew with it to Gary, Indiana. Due to the late arrival time. they could not finish the aircraft on Saturday and continued to work through Sunday evening to ensure we closed the lease.  These two mechanics showed great initiative in helping the company finish the aircraft.

Bryan and Eric will be entered in the 4th quarter Above & Beyond contest and are each in the running to win a $50 Visa gift card.  Great job, guys!

Great job, Trans States Tech Ops!

great job thought bubbleA big thanks to Tech Ops for a great performance so far this month! Highlights include:

  • Successful and on time introduction of 825hk into the fleet
  • Successful and on time lease return of 805hk
  • October controllable completion and D0 were best we have numbers produced in all of 2014, and possibly longer
  • November D0 is currently equal to October
  • November controllable completion is in the A range

We appreciate everything that the Tech Ops team does to keep the operation running smoothly.  Keep up the good work!