American Airlines team member Azriel “Al” Blackman, an aviation maintenance technician crew chief based at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), celebrated 75 years of service with the airline this week.
With such an extensive period of work in the field of aviation mechanics, Al Blackman officially earned the Guinness World Records title for Longest career as an airline mechanic.
Blackman was applauded during a ceremony at JFK airport where American Airlines surprised him by dedicating a Boeing 777 in his honor.
“On behalf of Al’s more than 100,000 team members, we are honored to celebrate him and his milestone 75 years of service today,” said American’s Chairman and CEO, 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.”
Blackman’s career in the industry began when he was just 16 years old and graduated from Aviation High School in Manhattan.
He immediately took a job with American Airlines as an apprentice in the sheet metal shop, where he worked each day for just $0.50 an hour.
During his 75 years with the airline company, Blackman has worked on some of aviation’s most fascinating aircrafts.
Although his shift technically starts at 5 a.m. Blackman arrives bright and early at the hangar just before 3 a.m. most days.
“When I first started as a junior mechanic, Al was my crew chief and he was celebrating his 45th anniversary. I thought to myself, ‘45 years with one company. That's amazing,’" commented Robert Needham, senior manager Aircraft Line Maintenance, JFK. “Here we are celebrating his 75th, 30 years later, and it's just mind-blowing.”
Twenty-five years ago Blackman was honored with the FAA’s Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award, an accolade 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.
Now Al will be forever remembered for his longstanding career with a stunning mural which is displayed across a wall in the airport hangar.
On receiving the record, Blackman said, “When you like what you do, it’s not work.”