Azreil “Al” Blackman celebrated his 75th year of service at American Airlines on July 18. To put this in perspective, Blackman, who is still actively working for the airline, received the FAA’s Charles E. Taylor Master Mechanic Award for his 50 years of MRO experience 25 years ago.
“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,’" said Robert Needham, senior manager aircraft line maintenance at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). “Here we are celebrating his 75th, 30 years later, and it's just mind-blowing.”
The aviation maintenance technician crew chief started with the airline (named American Export Airlines at the time) at New York’s LaGuardia Airport at age 16 as a sheet metal shop apprentice for $0.50 per hour. The 91-year-old, who moved to New York LaGuardia Airport in the 1960s, has worked on almost all of the airline’s aircraft—including the flying boats from the 1940s to today’s aircraft.
American Airline surprised him during his 75th anniversary celebration by naming a Boeing 777 in his honor (pictured). In addition, The Guinness World Records was present to honor Blackman with the “longest career as an airline mechanic.”
Next month Blackman will turn 92.
American noted that his shift starts at 5am but he usually arrives just before 3am. “When you like what you do, it’s no work,” says Blackman.