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.