When he started in the KF Hamilton tool crib as a coop student in 1998, Nathan Rozon wasn’t sure which trade he’d pursue. Now a Senior Structures AME with 20 years at KF (and going strong) he tells us how he got into the craft, what it’s taught him and how it could be your calling.
How did you start at KF?
“It was right out of high school. I knew I was interested in aviation and did a co-op program to experience all the trades. I wound up getting a job in the KF Hamilton Stores as a tool crib technician in 1999. Back then I was the only Nathan at the base—now there’s five of us!”
What inspired you to train as an AME?
“I remember seeing the guys working in the hangar, thinking: that’s what I want to do. Lionel Taylor used to be head of Structures. He was coming through one night and told me about the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) Structures course. I applied, completed the aptitude tests, but the class was already full. Two weeks before the Kelowna course started, a spot opened. I said of course I’d go and packed up my stuff!”
Where did you take your course?
“Back then, KF Kelowna had one of the only schools recognized by Transport Canada, where you could earn your TC Certificate. They were having trouble finding licensed AMEs, so made their own course. The schooling was 10 months of straight aircraft structures.
KF has really recognized the need to train for the future, getting on board with Mohawk College and Okanagan College. I think it’s ingenious.”
How would you describe the Aircraft Structures trade?
“It’s kind of like building a house: think of Structures as the wood frame. It’s making things from scratch, with raw materials. It’s that kind of craftiness where you can make something from nothing. It’s not an assembly line job—every moment presents a different obstacle to overcome. It keeps your brain supple.
If you loved playing Lego as a kid and are really meticulous about the fine details (like plus or minus five thousandths of an inch) then Structures is the thing to do.”
A typical day in the hangar?
“In my crew, I’m second in command. I call myself the arms and legs of my crew chief. And I’m becoming more of a teacher to the next generation coming up, showing them how to approach a repair, whether its replacing parts, fabricating new ones from scratch, trimming out damage, working with NDT or ordering materials. And they don’t shy away from asking me questions. One guy calls me his ‘work dad.’ As a parent your job’s never done. It’s kind of the same feeling… I hope I’m not getting old!”
One of your favourite projects?
“Installing 757 winglets. We had teams of eight guys day and night bringing all the precision pieces together, running in great big stringers, with thousands of holes to drill. It was fun.
Kirk Mitchell and his team came out from Kelowna and gave us heads up on how to do the work. He was a great help. We worked together on splicing the old and new structures of the skins together. We we’re all just trying to learn from each other and become better leaders.”
Any advice for apprentices starting out?
“Be really on top of your paperwork. You can never over document.
And keep pushing yourself to say yes to things. Always be ready to learn something, it’s going to better you. There are lots of opportunities if you want them—especially with KF growing.”
Photo credit: Nathan Verduyn
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