Cadet Experience Leads to a Career as Aircraft Maintenance Technician
Kristen Blue first learned about Civil Air Patrol at an eighth-grade open house. Thanks to her love of the outdoors and camping, she was immediately drawn to the organization’s search and rescue mission.
Five years as a cadet led her to pursue a career in aviation. She’s now an aircraft maintenance technician at Boshart Enterprises & Aircraft Services Inc. in Batavia, New York.
“Without Civil Air Patrol I may have never been introduced to the world of general aviation,” she said. “I absolutely credit CAP with leading me to my aviation career.”
Boshart, which has had a working relationship with CAP for many years as a logistics vendor and sponsor, is a Federal Aviation Administration-certified repair station and has been servicing general aviation aircraft for over 30 years. Authorized to provide major airframe and engine repairs, engine installations and certified modifications, as well as general maintenance, Boshart also operates a full-service, state-of-the art avionics shop.
The Boshart team works on a variety of general aviation aircraft, including a lot of Pipers, Cessnas and Cirrus aircraft.
“So far my favorite aircraft I’ve worked on is a 1946 Widgeon seaplane,” Blue said. “I do occasionally see Civil Air Patrol planes come into the hangar, and I get very excited because it reminds me of why I got into aviation in the first place — and now I get to make sure these aircraft are safe for the flights of other aviation enthusiasts.
“I’m still learning, so sometimes I shadow with a more experienced employee,” she added. “I love working for Boshart. They’re so experienced and helpful when I have questions. We do inspections on airplanes, fix any problems we find, run and taxi them, and make sure everything is safe for the airplane to fly.
“My favorite part of the job is the unpredictability and always doing something different. You really never know what’s going to land at your airport or who you’re going to meet on any given day.”
“We’re thrilled to have Kristen on our team — she’s enthusiastic, hard-working and responsible,” said Carol Boshart, the company’s vice president. “There’s no doubt the CAP cadet program inspires in youth a love of aviation.”
Blue got a taste of her future career during high school through a full-day job shadow and a weeklong internship at Boshart through a BOCES (Boards of Cooperative Educational Services) program; which allowed her to earn college credit before graduation. “I really enjoyed my time interning there; everyone was so kind and helpful, and it really helped me decide for sure that I wanted to go to college for aviation,” she said.
Blue’s favorite classes during her yearlong course at Mohawk Valley Community College were physics and welding. The strict curriculum set by the FAA included a specific hour requirement for each subject, and it was structured like a standard work week – eight hours a day, five days a week.
“It was interesting going to school at an airport and seeing different planes every day,” Blue said. “We sometimes had fighter jets fly over, and everyone would run to the window or outside to see them.”
As a New York Wing cadet, Blue served with the Condor Composite Squadron, based at Perry-Warsaw Airport.
“I enjoyed the flying, but search and rescue training was probably my overall favorite activity,” said Blue, who qualified as a ground team member.
“I also always looked forward to the New York Wing Conference, staying in a hotel with my cadet friends and dressing up for the dance at the end of the weekend. And I enjoyed leading my squadron during my time as squadron cadet commander.” Honored as Cadet of the Year for the New York Wing’s Finger Lakes Group, Blue also received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award and the Mike Rowe Work Ethic Scholarship and was named American Legion Walter Klein Post No. 532 Humanitarian of the Year.
“I was so proud of winning the awards but even more proud of how close it brought me to my mentors in the CAP program,” she said. “It was a great honor.”
In 2015, she attended National Blue Beret in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, a two-week summertime CAP National Cadet Special Activities event that provides participants with the opportunity to work at one of the largest and most prestigious air shows in the world.
“I enjoyed every aspect of NBB,” she said. “I made so many friends that I still talk to all the time. Getting a behind-the-scenes look at one of the largest air shows was unforgettable. I want to go back!”
Blue, who has some flight time in gliders but has not yet soloed, plans to start powered flight training as soon as she is able. “Getting my pilot license is a dream of mine,” she said. “I want to fly, and working with planes every day only makes me want it more.”
A native of Pavilion, New York, who now makes her home in the Rochester suburb of Brockport, Blue plans to rejoin CAP soon, as a senior member. “I’m looking forward to more responsibility and more opportunities in emergency services and search and rescue,” she said. “I’m also excited for all the new friendships it will bring.”