People have dreamed about flying from the earliest times. Witnessing how the birds move about so easily must have been intriguing to our ancestors who walked wherever they went. We know from Greek myths about man’s dreams about flight, the story of Icarus being the most well known. The early drawings depicting gods with wings are proof enough of the man’s desire to fly.
We can jump ahead thousands of years to Leonardo De Vinci who actually left us with drawings of potential flying machines including helicopters. The arrival of the age of reason following the medieval times allowed scientific principles to be applied to the dream of flight. The earliest attempts were in hot-air balloons and gliders. The invention of the internal combustion engine in 1876 was the step necessary to propel aviation, as we know it, into existence.
The first Canadian balloon flight was made by C. Lowe, in 1858. Later, a Mr. Ayres and his wife made some balloon ascents from Hamilton in 1861 making Mrs. Ayres the first woman to fly in Canada. In Montreal a balloon with an engine was designed in 1879 and a flight of some 40 miles was made. We can the skip ahead to Orville and Wilbur Wright who flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. The Silver Dart flew at Baddeck, Nova Scotia on December February 23, 1909. The Silver Dart was demonstrated to the Canadian government and the military, however little support was received. Sam Hughes, Minister of Militia, went so far as to say the aeroplane would “never be used in the defence of a nation in war, my son”. Well, this has been proven very wrong over the last 125 years.
Aviation and its cousin, space travel, have become common. However, not much has been written about the people behind the scenes known as Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers. Some have called them “unsung heroes” and others, aircraft mechanics. Neither reflects the entire truth. In some ways we are unsung heroes but we are also mechanics, technicians and in some cases technologists. The AME designation legally refers to those who inspect and certify their own or other’s work. In Canada and many other places the AMEs are the ones behind the scenes who maintain the aircraft and its components.
Passengers rarely glimpse the world of the AME. On delays caused by maintenance issues they may see one or two enter the control cabin and speak to a pilot. The majority of people passengers see are security and ramp attendants. Pilots work directly with AMEs as do a limited number of professional aeronautical engineers and manufacturers. These people have a genuine respect for AME work which most often goes unnoticed by others not directly involved in the aviation field.
This web book is an attempt to record some of the work and history of AMEs in Canada.
Roger Beebe, AME