American Airlines is celebrating the seven-decade service of a New York mechanic who turns 87 next month and has no plans to retire.
Azriel “Al” Blackman was 16 when he started as an apprentice mechanic in July of 1942, long before bag fees, airport security or even the introduction of the jet engine. He was paid 50 cents an hour.
Seventy years later, he still reports to work every day at American’s aircraft maintenance hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“I don’t consider it work, really,” Blackman said Wednesday. “If you like what you do, it’s not work.”
The Fort Worth, Texas-based airline invited Blackman to ride on a vintage DC-3 to mark his anniversary with the company.
The aircraft, the Flagship Detroit, is owned by a nonprofit foundation that has restored it to a historically accurate approximation of what it looked like when it was in passenger service for American from 1937 to 1947.