(Reprinted from the SBSE Web Connection, June 11, 2013.)
SB/SE employee Mariana Allen worked on F-15 fighter planes as a mechanic with the U.S. Air Force prior to working for the IRS. Allen joined the Air Force seeking a secretarial position, but because the admin quota was filled, she decided to go for something more exciting. An aircraft mechanic (crew chief) position was open and Allen thought it sounded interesting. She took the aptitude test, acheived a high score, and made the decision to take the job.
“I loved working on the aircraft and with the other people to get the planes ready to fly,” Allen said. “I had a great time.”
She has been around the world, visiting many places she would not have thought of going to, such as Pakistan, Egypt, France, Portugal, Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece.
Allen worked on F-15 fighter planes while stationed in Germany after training at Sheppard Air Force base for three months.
“You advance by working on aircraft and taking specialty courses to go to the next skill level, which is a Level 5, when you work on the aircraft mostly by yourself,” said Allen.
Currently an SB/SE Communications secretary, Allen said not many women were in the field at the time. “At my first base there were four females out of about 40 crew chiefs,” she said. “The F-15 fighter was a fairly new aircraft and there were a lot of Level 3s learning to work it, so it wasn’t too hard, but a lot of the older mechanics still didn’t like women in that field.”
After her tour in Germany she was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada and worked in transient alert where they took care of the aircraft that landed but did not belong to the base. “My title for the first six years was aircraft mechanic, and then I retrained and was a logistician for the next 14 years, working with plans, mobility and war reserve equipment,” Allen said.
One of Allen’s duties as crew chief was to launch the airplane out, get the pilot strapped in, and perform checks to make sure everything was working correctly. Last step: she would signal the pilot to taxi onto the runway.
“When I was at Eglin AFB I had my own airplane and they put my name on the side,” said Allen. “One side had the pilot’s name, the other, the crew chief.”
She was the only female in the group while stationed at Nellis. “They’d give me the administrative items to do like the training and supply jobs. I was used to the paperwork. After being a mechanic I was a logistician; we did the base plans and mobility exercises, it's a lot like now, being the secretary of the group,” said Allen.
Though Allen was used to administrative duties, she says working for the military and working as a federal very different and it was hard to get accustomed to the informal boss-employee relationship.
“I’m glad I’m working with the IRS. I have met some great people and enjoy the job and the people I work with.”