American Airlines dedicates Boeing 777 to 91-year-old mechanic for 75 years of service

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After 75 years with American Airlines, Azreil “Al” Blackman says he isn’t thinking about retirement.

“That’s not my style,” he told ABC News.

Based out of New York City his entire career, the 91-year-old aviation maintenance technician started off making 50 cents an hour as an apprentice in the sheet metal shop, when American was known as American Export Airlines.

Since then, Blackman has worked on some of aviation’s most storied aircraft, from the Sikorsky flying boat that kicked off American’s trans-Atlantic service, to the original jumbo jet, the Boeing 747.

The former U.S. Navy service member has dedicated his life to American Airlines aircraft.

On Tuesday, his long-time employer returned the favor.

At a ceremony at John F. Kennedy International Airport, a curtain dropped to reveal a Boeing 777 dedicated to his 75 years of service.

The aircraft is capable of holding at least 247 people and flying American Airlines’ longest routes. For the remainder of the jet’s life at American Airlines, his name and signature will be inscribed to the left of the aircraft’s main cabin door.

Guinness World Records also awarded Blackman with the title of “Longest career as an airline mechanic.”

At the Tuesday ceremony the New York native climbed into the jet — before it makes its inaugural trip to London Wednesday sporting its new paint job — and received a sky-high tour of his hometown.

Blackman took off from JFK at 2:59 p.m. and and flew north up the Hudson River to West Point before turning right and looping around the northern edge of Long Island at an altitude of just under 3,000 for before returning to the airport. The flight lasted about an hour-and-a-half to commemorate a lifetime’s worth of service to country’s largest airline.

“Slightly hazy,” he said of the view from the flight deck. “Very calm, quiet.”

Blackman says he has no plans to retire from his work any time soon.

“What’s the big deal about retirement, really? What do you do when you retire?” Blackman told ABC News. “You stay home and watch the television, that’s not my style.”

Read originally published story at: abc news

 

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