Inspecting FAA facilities

Eric writes:

Eric

Eric

I went to work for ATC Environmental the day after I finished working with Linn. When I walked in the door, Dan Beneke hired me on the spot, because he was familiar with Linn and I, knew the quality work we had done in the past. I worked as a field project manager for a couple of years and then they sent me to Chicago to train for Polarized Light Microscopy. I went to work in the asbestos laboratory as an analyst. I was later chosen to train for the new Transmission Electron Microscopy laboratory that ATC was opening. At about this time, Jenny Meyer over at Research Management Consultants, Inc. offered me a job. I had just started in the TEM lab and wanted to give the company at least a year considering the investment they had just made to train me. I worked in the TEM lab for a little over a year, when I finally moved on to RMCI.

Working at RMCI was the most fun I think I ever had working for somebody else. Remember, I was and still am in love with anything that has to do with flying. They hired me to inspect buildings and do building materials surveys at Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facilities all across the country. I started out working on the Air Traffic Control tower inspection program. I would go out with a partner for five days to a different facility every day. For example, one week started at the Minot, North Dakota tower, the second day at Grand Forks, on to a radar facility north of Fargo, then to the Fargo tower on Thursday; and finishing up with the Bismarck ATCT on Friday.

We would spend a full day surveying a facility. A small tower might take only four hours to inspect. A large facility might take longer than the eight hours allotted. I remember one trip to Oklahoma City, where any partner and I spent ten hours per day at a facility and almost missed our Friday evening flight because we were working so long. I spent the next three or more weeks producing the inspection reports.

The smallest building I ever looked at was a radio building at the end of the runway at Valdez, Alaska. The largest building was Hangar#8 at the Monroney Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. One was a twenty-minute inspection; the other took almost 60 hours to complete the physical inspection.

One of my friends at RMCI was Chuck Mumey. He was a fellow inspector and a pilot. He owned his own airplane and had about every rating there was except ATP. At lunch time we would go for walks and talk about all kinds of stuff, but would always wind up talking about flying. Chuck wanted to teach me to fly, but my wife, JoAnn, was afraid that I would get killed. So I didn’t get to learn to fly from Chuck.

One Saturday morning Chuck called me to see if I would be interested in going for a flight. Chuck also asked Rhonda Bliss, a mutual friend, to come along. I was also able to take my son Joel along for the ride. We flew from Denver to Pueblo and had a pizza lunch. Then we flew back. Once again a beautiful flying experience. The whole time, my wife JoAnn was sitting at home afraid that we were going to crash and die.

We didn’t.

When we completed the tower inspection program, we started working with the Raytheon Company to produce specifications from our inspection reports for the Fire and Life Safety Program. This started another round of inspections.

This time I was in Washington DC for an extended period and then out in the field at towers again collecting lead paint samples. Once these inspections and specifications were completed, they assigned us Environmental Oversight Supervisors to the individual construction projects. These projects could take months to complete.  They expected us to be on the job site the entire time. I would be gone for ten days straight, come home for a weekend and then back to work on Monday.

I remember being in Nantucket, Massachusetts for several weeks in the fall of one year. I would leave work to catch a flight home at 3:30 PM and not get home until after midnight. I would be so exhausted that I would sleep until noon Saturday and then have to be back at the airport by noon Sunday to fly back to work. I was gone so much that I wound up getting divorced, as did one or two others I worked with.

— Eric H