Project Description

Dustin Colella

Pittsburgh Campus, PA
Aviation Maintenance Technology (AMT)
Employment: Employer Air Methods, Quality Assurance Inspector

When Dustin Colella served in the United States Marine Corps, he discovered that he liked working with the versatile V-22 Osprey helicopters. He also learned about a school that sounded like a perfect fit to help him pursue a post-military career in helicopter aviation: PIA.

“During routine conversation with some of the civilian mechanics who were assigned to my squadron, I heard a lot of positive information about PIA’s Pittsburgh campus,”says Colella. “After doing some of my own research, I felt that PIA would be a great option for me to pursue when my active duty contract came to an end.”

Although there were no helicopter maintenance positions available in the Pittsburgh area at the time of Colella’s graduation, the versatility of his PIA education meant he didn’t need to wait long to find a different opportunity in the aeronautics field.

“After graduating from PIA’s AMT program, I immediately began working for Republic Airlines at Pittsburgh International Airport,” says Colella. “There, I learned a different set of aviation maintenance skills while I worked on regional jet aircraft, and I met a lot of great friends along the way.”

Still, Colella knew that landing his dream job in the helicopter field would require keeping his ears open for new opportunities.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Republic,” says Colella, “but with the totality of my Marine Corps aviation experience having taken place with helicopters, I was determined to make my way back into the realm of helicopter maintenance as soon as possible.”

It didn’t take long. During his first year with Republic, Colella learned about Air Methods, a privately–owned company that provides emergency medical services in 48 U.S. states, amassing over 150,00 flight hours annually while serving more than 70,000 patients each year. When Colella heard that Air Methods was looking to hire mechanics, he immediately applied and was hired soon after as a helicopter maintenance technician.

Today, Colella works as a quality assurance inspector at Air Methods, where he is responsible for ensuring the safe and proper completion of all maintenance performed. “The most gratifying part of this job, for me, comes at the end of a major maintenance evolution,” says Colella. “We need to run through numerous operational checks and flight checks to ensure that all of the work performed was completed properly. When those checks are complete and the aircraft is returned to service, I know that all the hard work our team accomplished is the reason this aircraft can now safely transport medical patients.”

Colella’s career is a rewarding reminder that all work experience has its upside, even if the career path it creates doesn’t necessarily follow a straight line.