Myrtle Beach Campus, SC
Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: Aerial Solutions, Inc., Helicopter Technician
With so many aeronautics jobs to choose from, some PIA graduates decide to move across the country to begin their careers while others prefer to stay close to home. But
helicopter maintenance specialist Matthew Register gets to enjoy the best of both worlds: although his career practically started in his own backyard, it also gives him plenty of opportunities to travel, too.
“I was working in Conway, SC, at a general aviation shop while I was going to college, and I realized that I really enjoyed working on aircraft and watching them fly away,” said Register. “After discussing my career options with the shop’s owner, Henry Williamson, and getting some advice from my brother Andrew and my grandfather David, I researched obtaining my A&P license, and I found that PIA–Myrtle Beach was my best option.”
Register, whose hometown of Nakina, NC, is just an hour from PIA’s Myrtle Beach campus, didn’t have to look far to find a post–PIA job: he met his future employer in that same Conway aviation shop. “Mr. Williamson was friends with the Director of Maintenance for Aerial Solutions, who came and spoke with me, basically recruiting me to come work with him,” says Register. “Also, living within ten minutes of Aerial Solutions headquarters was a plus.”
As a helicopter technician, Register helps maintain Aerial Solutions’s fleet of eleven MD 500 helicopters, which use specialized aerial saws to trim trees for more than 20 different utilities, pipeline companies, and government agencies in over 10 states.
“Every day on this job is unique,” says Register. “A regular day at the shop might involve rebuilding a helicopter’s components so it can go back into service. But I could also be working on an inspection at our home shop and get a call from one of our helicopters out in the field. In that case, I may have to take an engine, transmission, or other part and go assist one of our senior field mechanics in completing the maintenance.”
Register says his job involves lots of travel, since Aerial Solutions serves customers in many states including Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. But no matter how challenging his job can be — including the day he had to swap out a helicopter engine in the middle of a freezing cow pasture in Virginia — Register says his PIA experience has helped prepare him for almost anything.
“We had a great lineup of instructors at PIA who had many years of experience in different aspects of the aviation industry, and their various points of view have definitely helped me along the way,” says Register. “They always pushed us to stay motivated and do the best we could. Also, the friendships I made with my fellow classmates have helped us stay connected in the aviation world even after graduation.”
Having a large and supportive alumni network is a benefit that PIA graduates get to enjoy for life — no matter where their career takes them.