Petty Officer Michael Paquette: I'm Petty Officer Michael Paquette. I'm stationed at Air Station Clearwater. I've been in the Coast Guard for a total of 14 years. Eleven of those years have been in aviation as an AMT. We have a maintenance side that we accomplish, as well as a flight side that we accomplish. I would say my job basis is about 70 percent maintenance and probably 30 percent flying. That maintenance on the AMT side is dealing with the engines, the air frame repairs, flight control repairs, hands-on taking apart systems, putting stuff back together, inspecting components, troubleshooting components.
If you're a 3rd class, you're going to come to work, you're going to report to your shop. They'll have some maintenance that's obviously going on with the helicopters. If you're not going to be attached to a maintenance evolution on one of the helicopters, they might have you slotted for a flight that day. So you could be doing maintenance or going out flying. Then you usually work one shift and then you're off, you've got duty sometimes, so you'll be coming in for work, maybe spending the night ready to launch out the ready aircraft.
There are always going to be differences, obviously, with your flight duties. FC130, you have the flight guys in charge of loading the cargo in the back, as well as there's radiomen on board, and navigators and flight engineers. Where, on a helicopter side, a basic job is either a basic aircrew member or a flight MEC, which is obviously the hoist control operator. Currently, I'm a flight MEC aboard the H860 Jayhawk. That involves me performing all the rescue hoists. I retrieve and deploy such items such as the rescue basket, rescue ladder. I also conduct the rescue swimmer operations, deploying the rescue swimmers and retrieving them. We also perform a law enforcement side of the house. We do ID-ing of boats, keeping journals of the back of some of the stuff we accomplished during our flights.
The people that we like to work with are the people that have initiative — initiative and the drive. If you have initiative to get the job done and stay true to the task, aviation is a good job to be in.