American Airlines team member Azriel Blackman, an aviation maintenance technician crew chief based at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, celebrated 75 years of service with the airline today.
At a ceremony at earlier at the airport, the airline surprised him by dedicating a Boeing 777 in his honour.
“I’m just honoured to be here, I’m proud to be a mechanic.
“I’m proud to be part of the American Airlines team,” commented Blackman to a standing ovation.
Guinness World Records was also on hand to recognise Blackman with the ‘longest career as an airline mechanic’ title.
When Blackman was just 16 years old he graduated from aviation high school in Manhattan and took a job with American Airlines (American Export Airlines at the time) as an apprentice in the sheet metal shop for $.50 an hour.
During his 75 years with American, Blackman has worked on some of aviation’s most fascinating aircraft.
Although his shift technically starts at 05:00, Blackman arrives at the hangar just before 03:00 most days.
“On behalf of Al’s more than 100,000 team members, we are honoured to celebrate him and his milestone 75 years of service today,” said American chairman, Doug Parker.
“Al has worked on nearly every aircraft American has flown since the flying boats of the 1940s to the Boeing 777s of today.
“His hard work and dedication to train and mentor others and safely maintain our aircraft has made us a better airline.”
Twenty-five years ago Blackman was honoured with the FAA’s Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award, a feat only awarded to individuals with 50 years of experience in aviation maintenance as an accredited mechanic or repairman certified by the FAA for at least 30 years.
“When you like what you do, it’s not work,” commented Blackman.