He used to load planes; now he fixes them

When Kyle H. put on his uniform as a full-fledged aircraft technician last year, it was thanks to a lot of grit, determination and encouragement from his coworkers—and a new company benefit called the Maintenance Technician Development Program.

Encouraged by his coworkers, he transferred to Fairbanks to start classes at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to obtain his airframe & powerplant (A&P) license and become an aircraft mechanic, while simultaneously working at the station.

“It was a hard transition but a new adventure,” he said. “I had to borrow a coworker’s diesel-fueled monster (truck) to get around until my truck arrived.”

Juggling work and school was hard, and Kyle said having his girlfriend (now fiancée) as support was crucial. His fellow ramp agents also had his back and would often take his shifts, allowing him to juggle his class schedule.

Some days he’d go to class after his graveyard shift at work, with sleep coming as naps in his truck. On top of that, he got Covid, missed some classes and had to make them up on the weekend, with no time off. He was just making ends meet.

Then he read an article on Alaska’s World about a program for aspiring aircraft mechanics that could help him with some of his class fees while working. “My local leaders forwarded me the link and suggested I do it,” he said. “I asked a lot of questions, emailed a lot of people and applied.”

He was accepted. “I was the first one—the guinea pig for the program,” said Kyle.

There are now six employees enrolled in the program, and we’re hoping for more. Alaska Airlines has partnerships with Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Anchorage. Company Maintenance & Engineering leaders and our recruitment team often speak with classes to encourage students to join the external version of the program.

“I was lucky to receive the development program’s reimbursements after my schooling. The company also helped me move to Anchorage,” he said.

Kyle, a Tsimshian and Tlingit Native from Metlakatla, Alaska, joined Alaska Airlines as a ramp service agent in Juneau, Alaska when he was just 20 years old. As a track runner and admitted bookworm in high school, the pace of the job appealed to him. He dove right in and took on more responsibility, filling in as lead, working in the warehouse and qualifying as a departure coordinator.

But he wanted more.

Kyle admits his family back home was surprised when he decided to become a maintenance technician. “Neither of my parents has any mechanical background, so they were amazed at the route I decided to take in life.”

Now established in his role as a line aircraft technician in Anchorage, Kyle is finally able to enjoy life a bit. He is part of a predominantly Tsimshian dance group. “Dancing is important for me, as is being involved in a group of people from my culture. It makes me feel close to my roots,” he said.

Kyle encourages others who want to grow their careers with Alaska. to consider the program.

Know what you’re capable of, but don’t be afraid to push your limits. Hard work and determination will always pay off, and I’m living proof.”

– Kyle H

Want to take your career to new heights?

Our Maintenance Technician Development Program is geared towards individuals who want to gain the skills needed to become an aircraft maintenance technician.

Aspiring aircraft technicians who enroll in our program will receive up to $12,300 in stipend assistance and have mentorship opportunities with a certified A&P aircraft maintenance technician. After completing the program and meeting all qualifications, you’ll be given a contingent job offer and assigned to a new hire class date with Horizon Air.

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