Aircraft mechanic

reader stressful jobs tom gomes 3
  • Name: Tom Gomes
  • Hometown: Allison, Iowa

Stress is huge in this line of work. A wrong turn of a screw might be life or death. Your integrity, your name and your FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] license are on the line every time you perform maintenance on an aircraft.

Most people when they have a bad day can go home and sleep, but I'm often lying there in bed thinking 'Did I forget something? A tool, a fastener, a missed panel or did I make the right decision?' On the TV news -- [when there's] a crash. [I think:] 'Did I work on that aircraft?'

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The worst stress is when that is true. I not only worked on that aircraft, but knew the pilot as a friend.

I love aviation, but being perfect every time is difficult. It's hard on your family life. After 25-plus years, the stress never goes away.

I have worked on everything from a Piper Cub to a Boeing 747. I also fly them. Most aircraft mechanics are afraid to fly. It would be like working on a car and being afraid to drive.

The average aircraft mechanic makes $50,000 for working on airplanes that cost millions.

First published June 30, 2014: 5:49 PM ET

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