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Thread: Wanting to move to Alaska

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    Member Alaskaman 2016's Avatar
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    Default Wanting to move to Alaska

    I am 18 and i am wanting to move to Alaska. I have been considering going into the army after the holidays. I qualify for all mechanics jobs in the army including aircraft mechanic. I was wondering if anybody could help in figuring out if i should take this MOS. Is there a big need for aircraft mechanics in Alaska? I would imagine so with all the bush planes but want some advice from people who live there. If not this way of getting to Alaska what should i do? Any help and advice would be appreciated. thanks.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Well,, many years ago I was 18 and mechanically inclined, poor from the south. The Army and aviation both led me to where I am now, happy and living the dream here. That said there is much to do to get to where you speak of. Being an Army helicopter mechanic will not give you much airplane experience and you will need an FAA Airframe and Powerplant license to work as a mechanic in the civilian market.

    At this time there is not that many helicopters stationed here, so getting assigned to Alaska as a helicopter mechanic will be a challenge. The Kiowa helicopters here are being replaced with Apaches. A few Blackhawks and CH47s but not many anymore.

    If you want to fly and get more real world experience, stick with working on the Blackhawks and 47s, the Apaches are always in the field shooting and break all the time, plus you are deployed a lot!!!

    The real money right now in the Army and Civilian world is drones,, they can't keep those folks because once trained they get paid big money and are hired after one hitch to work on the economy.

    So to summarize yes, this poor southern boy who was a high school drop out, got his GED and joined the Army as a Helicopter mechanic and now I have a Bachelors Degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle, FAA Airframe and Powerplant mechanic, Pilot and retired from the Army living in Alaska so your plan is doable.

    Best wishes young man.

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    Might want to check into the Alaska Air National Guard. They have allot of full time positions up here. https://www.goang.com/Careers
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    Charterboat Operator Abel's Avatar
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    I know the AirDales in the Coast Guard that love Alaska are able to bounce between Sitka and Kodiak frequently. Lots of them bounce between Clearwater and Kodiak too. We ahve a few mechs here that have their own 185's n such. I've been in AK for 7 of the last 8 yrs, the only time I left was by choice for 10 months.
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    Aviationmechanics and Alaska is a great combo.If choppers are your specialty there are a lot of choices from theprivet sector like heli ski guides, sightseeing, TV News stations, oil rigs and then government,State & Federal like Alaska Department of Fish & Game, U.S. ForestServes, USGS, BLM, State Troopers and the Coast Guard.Thatísall I can think off the top of my head.If youíre also a airplane mechanic, the hard part will be deciding wherein Alaska do you want to be.They areneeded everywhere. If you like to fish, you can get a job in Bristol Bay areaand do your required maintenance and then do some of the best fishing you willever do. If you love to hunt. Look into to a Guide serves where you couldalso be a guide assistant. IMO, Aviation mechanics gotta be on the top 10 listfor best career choices in Alaska.However,if you donít enjoy the outdoor life, like fishing, hunting, trapping, skiing,ect. Then donít waste your time up here. If these things do appeal to you, youíre on agreat path to the rest of your life. Best of luck.

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    I was a 15T Blackhawk mechanic in the AK Army guard. It was a good job, got to fly as a crew member, rescues, firefighting etc.

    However, it did NOT help me get a job in the civilian world. As a matter of fact, when I applied to ERA helicopters, the Chief of Maintenance specifically would not hire those with only military experience. He said military mechanics tend to be "parts changers" and not true mechanics (he was right).

    I'd personally lean towards the Air Guard if being a military mechanic is what you want.
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    As an A&P mechanic (Not currently & no military background) who specialized in Bell helicopters & had multiple specialty certificates from Bell, I can honestly say that when I got out of it with about 8 yrs experience all for the same GOOD mid size company (13 ships from Jet Rangers to 212s) company & having worked my way into the overhaul shop, I was making only slightly less than the average line mechanic at the local car dealerships :-). I did enjoy it though... Frankly something like an instrument tech with one of the major oil companies will pay better & give you a schedule that is very conducive to time spent outdoors.
    As others have said if you want to be a military aviation mechanic I think that's great! I have a nephew who was a Marine, is now in the Air Guard & somehow a civilian contractor (I don't understand it all) who is an engine mechanic on C-130s up here & does very well.
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    Alaska is a Great place for those the are willing to 'apply themselves' and work. The military sent me up here when I was 19 and other then doing deployments, I have not left. I started out working the flight line in the Air Force, then as a diesel mechanic working all over Alaska and then working full time in the Army Guard. If working on air frames is your passion, there is work to be had and done, it is just the pay is not what some might expect. Any type of mechanic workers in Alaska can make some good money, just remember that the hours are long, working conditions might not be the best and it could entail a fair amount of travel. There are many 'side benefits' to working in Alaska!

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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Did the op actually mention choppers at all? Or am I missing something.
    Just be warned, Alaska is amazing but it is changing. We still have some of the greatest outdoor opportunities in America, but they are changing. As our population and demand increases opportunities are decreasing. A lot of what you read about old time Alaska is not the same already. But your coming from Arkansas so it's gonna blow your mind no matter what!!
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskaman 2016 View Post
    ...including aircraft mechanic....
    Many of the better aircraft wrench turners up here have military training in their background. But for most I know it wasn't a Step 1, Step 2, Step 3 procedure from the military to becoming a successful civilian mechanic. It took a number of years after they got out of the service to find that first job, make a living, and become really established. You might have to do other jobs for a while before finding a shop opening, and put in quite a few years there before accumulating the rep that will help you go out on your own. No rhyme or reason to my guess, but looking back at how the good mechanics got where they are today, I'm betting the average was something like 10 years from the time they left the service until they had secure civilian careers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRWNBR View Post
    Did the op actually mention choppers at all? Or am I missing something.
    Just be warned, Alaska is amazing but it is changing. We still have some of the greatest outdoor opportunities in America, but they are changing. As our population and demand increases opportunities are decreasing. A lot of what you read about old time Alaska is not the same already. But your coming from Arkansas so it's gonna blow your mind no matter what!!
    Jake,, he mentioned that he was "qualified for all mechanic jobs IN THE ARMY, including aircraft mechanic" and since the Army no longer has fixed wing aircraft other than drones,, if you want to work on aircraft while in the Army,, helicopters are the option. Plenty of fix wing work in other branches, the the Army is limited.

    If I was a young buck starting over I would have liked to try the Coast Guard, I did not know that was an option when I joined.

    There is no FAST road to being an A&P mechanic, takes years of training or experience just to get the sign off to take the exam. Much better paying jobs with much lower liability,, you have to LOVE the work. I made more working at a car dealer as a wrench than I did working at a FBO on flight school birds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BRWNBR View Post
    Did the op actually mention choppers at all? Or am I missing something.
    Just be warned, Alaska is amazing but it is changing. We still have some of the greatest outdoor opportunities in America, but they are changing. As our population and demand increases opportunities are decreasing. A lot of what you read about old time Alaska is not the same already. But your coming from Arkansas so it's gonna blow your mind no matter what!!
    In the short time (7 out of the last 8yrs) I've even noticed this, can't even fathom the difference all you other guys see.
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    Wanted to add a few insights. For military opportunities the Coast Guard looks favorable. In addition, there is a plethora of opportunities on the north slope which afford different opportunities in the petroleum industry. Having worked in the petroleum industry for years, I'd recommend considering what they have to offer - and not limit yourself to military options.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    There is no FAST road to being an A&P mechanic, takes years of training or experience just to get the sign off to take the exam.
    Steve
    Incorrect Steve, right here in Fairbanks is a one year school that will put you in place to take the exam. Jobs are available here in Fbks as well.
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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Ahhh gotcha Steve, thanks for the clarification. Learned something new today! Now I need a nap! Lol
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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    Incorrect Steve, right here in Fairbanks is a one year school that will put you in place to take the exam. Jobs are available here in Fbks as well.
    I was unaware of any school program less than 2 years....

    From FAR

    If you are a US Citizen.

    What requirements must I meet to get a mechanic's certificate?

    1. You must be;
    * at least 18 years old.
    * able to read, write, speak, and understand English.
    2. You must have 18 months of practical experience with either power plants or airframes, or 30 months of practical experience working on both at the same time. As an alternative to this experience requirement, you can graduate from an FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School.
    3. You must pass three types of tests.
    * Three written examinations, (General, Powerplant and Airframe).
    * an oral test.
    * a practical test.
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    Member Hunt&FishAK's Avatar
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    Who said he was from arkansas? Either way, lots of people make their way here from everywhere. It's as easy as the price of a one way ticket nowadays. Others are right, alaska is hardly what she once was. However cost of living is extremely high and you had better do your research and make sure you have a solid backup plan. Good luck



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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    I was unaware of any school program less than 2 years....
    As an alternative to this experience requirement, you can graduate from an FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School.
    3. You must pass three types of tests.
    * Three written examinations, (General, Powerplant and Airframe).
    * an oral test.
    * a practical test.
    I believe there is also a school in North Dakota that has a one year program. I am a graduate of the school here in Fbks. It has been in existence since the early 80s at least. The current school, part of the U of A system, is on the east ramp of Fbks Int. in the old Warbelos hangar. As well, there are Designated Examiners here in Fbks.
    A one year A&P program is one the fastest means to a profitable career I know of.
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    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Says northwest Arkansas by his handle.
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    Stid2677,
    your info is true for a military mechanic to be able to just take the A&P tests for their license. If you go to an actual school they can teach you all of the stuff with 1 to 1.5 years. For me in the Air Forcd I have been a Fighter Crew Chief for 12 years. I can go right now and get the FAA to sign off on my training so I can just go take the tests to get my license. For the actual thread starter if you really wanna work aircraft to get a cold hold into Alaska go into either the Army or Air Force reserves or guard. You will be able to stay up here without having to pcs or leave Alaska other than deployments etc. they will teach you all you need to know for free by the way!! After a few years experience you will be able to go take the tests to get your license downtown. But I will tell you if you don't love to do the job you will hate it and want out. I fought it for the first 4 years and had every intention of getting out as I hated the job. Now after just 12 years I love it and have no problem working 12 hour days in rain, snow, hot or cold. It took a long way to get to this point and a lot of hard work. I have been over seas and spent a lot of time away from family so if you decided to go military be ready for that because it will happen!!! Good luck!



    Quote Originally Posted by stid2677 View Post
    I was unaware of any school program less than 2 years....

    From FAR

    If you are a US Citizen.

    What requirements must I meet to get a mechanic's certificate?

    1. You must be;
    * at least 18 years old.
    * able to read, write, speak, and understand English.
    2. You must have 18 months of practical experience with either power plants or airframes, or 30 months of practical experience working on both at the same time. As an alternative to this experience requirement, you can graduate from an FAA-Approved Aviation Maintenance Technician School.
    3. You must pass three types of tests.
    * Three written examinations, (General, Powerplant and Airframe).
    * an oral test.
    * a practical test.

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