Back when Joseph (Joe) Murphy was in high school, he was passionate about playing on his baseball, basketball and football teams. He has the same amount of drive today for his job as a flight mechanic here at Atlas, and appreciates the similar team approach that’s required for success.
“Everyone has to come together to make the flight a success,” said Joe. “It’s not just one person, but the entire team. We all have the same goals for the aircraft, and we have to be just as good at our jobs on the last day of a rotation as we are on the first day. We are all trying to stay consistent and maintain a perfect season.”
Joe’s interest in mechanics started when he was a child living in New York.
“I started working in a local gas station, pumping gas when I was just 10-years-old,” Joe recalled. “After that, I began fixing cars and then trucks, but I wanted to work on something bigger and faster. I became a diesel mechanic, maintaining and repairing diesel engines for buses and trucks, and then I joined the Air Force to do tactical aircraft maintenance.”
Joe’s time with the Air Force took him all over the world working on the F15 jet. After he was honorably discharged from the military, Joe went to a major American passenger airline and worked as a mechanic at JFK airport and Lambert St. Louis airport for 30 years before retiring in 2005.
Although officially retired from his airline job, Joe’s love for aviation never waned and he went on to do contract work for other airlines, including Southern, Polar and Atlas,. After a few years, he was hired by Atlas as a flight mechanic for the 747 – his current role. Joe continues to travel around the world for his job and most recently completed a rotation, which included stops in Hawaii, Korea and Japan.
Flight mechanics often live out of a suitcase, since rotations are 20 days on and 10 days off each month. For Joe, all flights “start” a few days before the actual departure.
Tech Ops evaluates all the flights and assigns every mechanic a rotation. Since each rotation includes new cargo going in and out, there is a significant amount of pre-planning that must take place to ensure the success of each flight.
“At each stop of the rotation, the aircraft needs an inspection, which includes things like topping essential fluids and reviewing write ups from the pilots that outline what needs to be addressed and fixed. I keep in close communication with Maintenance Control, and we prioritize any work that needs to be scheduled. I carry 125 pounds of my own tools on every flight.”
Joe added, “Our top priority is always safety so I’m focused on trying to anticipate what might come next. We have a computer onboard so I look up various things when we are flying, like making sure that all our paperwork for the aircraft is current and that all the parts that are on order are also up to date.”
Joe is extremely proud to work for Atlas, especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We were considered essential workers during the pandemic, so our work never stopped. I have never been so proud to work for this Company. We shipped personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals and civilians and later in the pandemic, we shipped vaccines. My co-workers all showed up without hesitancy and we are very proud of the role that we played.”