Aircraft painters don't just keep planes and helicopters looking good.
They keep aircraft in top condition by applying and maintaining protective
coats of paint. They may paint the plane or helicopter's body, wings, propellers
-- even interiors and engines.
The work is similar to car or boat painting, but because harsh conditions
at high altitudes are involved, it's a little more technical.
Planes are inspected, prepped and painted in a paint shop. Painters should
always wear protective gear to prevent chemicals from entering their lungs
Insurance costs for companies are high and it's important to keep employees
up to date on the latest safety procedures. Chemical exposure can be hazardous
to the worker's general health. "You're constantly around chemicals on a daily
basis and you have to keep safety in mind all the time," says painter Gary
Most companies will provide their painters with masks and gloves for protection.
Tim Braithwaite says that some workers fly out the shop door without looking
back. "You've got to be strong and be able to withstand the chemicals. I've
had people come in here and last two days and they're gone," he says.
Painters also have to understand basic math to mix paints. A good eye for
color and balance help, too.
Women are receiving a warm welcome into all aspects of aviation maintenance.
Robin Lamar is the vice-president of the Association for Women in Aviation
Maintenance (AWAM). She is writing a paper on the hopes and fears of women
in the aviation field. According to Lamar, many young women fear they will
meet resistance in the aviation field.
"One of the resistances to young women entering the field is that feeling
of loneliness and isolation," says Lamar. According to Lamar, the women who've
responded to her questionnaires have felt welcomed into the aviation community.
"They haven't really felt resistance....It's really neat. When it comes
to the part of 'Would you do it again?' the exclamation marks after 'yes'
are really loud," says Lamar.