My father was a certified welder who taught me to stick, gas, and TIG weld at a very young age. We had a small machine shop on the farm and dad also taught me how to run a 9" South Bend Lathe, which I now have in my shop. At age 9, I worked in the fields. At age 12, I swagged hydraulic lines on our harvester. I studied drafting, mechanics in motion, engine theory, and electronics in High School.
In the late 1980s, I went back to school at Harvard Ellis Tech, a FAA FAR Part 147 mechanic's school and earned my A&P (Airframe and Powerplant) mechanic's license. Harvard Ellis Tech is also a Part 145 repair station where students learn on operational aircraft, performing repairs, inspections, and modifications. I graduated in the top 5% of my class and went on to work for Delta Airlines, a commuter airline maintaining Saab SF340 B turboprops. From there I moved on to corporate aviation and worked on Canadair and Lear Jet products with Bombardier Aviation Services. This included overhauling hydraulic pumps, cylinders, and struts before becoming a "Return to Service Inspector."