LIFE IN THE AIR: Living the Dream
Flying|January - February 2021
The journey from M X to CFI
MELVIN WILLIAMS

Aviation has always been a dream and interest in my life. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, not too far away from John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK). I used to wake up to airplanes screaming out of the airport every single morning as child before I got ready for school.

One morning, I noticed the sound was different—it wasn’t the usual growl. This sounded like it had some speed to it, so I ran to my back window. When I looked, I saw a dartlike airplane that howled by, followed by a loud bang. That aircraft was known as Concorde.

At this point, I was hooked; I wanted to be in aviation without a doubt. When it was time for high school, I had to make a list of which high schools I was interested in, with my top choice first. (That’s the way it is within the New York City public school system.) Going through the book, I saw Aviation High School in Queens, and I was sold. I figured in order to start my journey as a pilot, that was where I had to go. I put the school at the top of my list and was accepted as a student.

I went to the school for freshman orientation, and I realized it was a school that made aircraft technicians, not pilots. I was a bit disappointed, but I still had an opportunity to be a part of the aviation industry and contribute, which I was OK with. High school was fun—not many teenagers get a chance to work with heavy machinery and play with welding torches and jet engines.

Upon graduation at 18 years old, I was a qualified aircraft maintenance technician with an airframe and powerplant certificate. It felt surreal. I couldn’t believe that, at such a young age, I could work on airplanes. What made it even crazier was that I was hired by a major airline to be an aircraft maintenance technician at the airport where the dream started, John F. Kennedy airport.

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