Women of Aviation Worldwide 2017: Christine Yaco

Women of Aviation Worldwide Christine Yaco
As a part of Women of Aviation Worldwide – we interviewed a couple of women that work in the shops at Heli-One. We are proud to introduce you to Christine Yaco who works in the Component Shop. Christine completed the BCIT Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (Category M) Program right out of high school and is 3 years into a career in aviation. She shares with us her story of how she got into the industry and how she finds being a woman in helicopter maintenance.

How did you get into the aviation industry?

In high school, I was really into sports. I applied to 3 colleges: two sports/human kinetics programs and the AME Program at BCIT. A friend of mine was already in the Program and was enjoying it – I used to live close to an airport and I’ve always been fascinated by aviation. I wound up getting accepted to all three but with human kinetics, it’s something I can always do. I wanted to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.

How did you find the Program and training?

It was 18 months and there were only two females in the class and only a few of us who were straight out of high school. Everyone else was older than us and had some kind of experience or schooling in mechanics or something similar. A lot of them already had a background in handling tools and I was at zero. It was intimidating at first, but everyone was really helpful and the instructors were resourceful and let you learn.

We all came from different experience levels so we all supported each other and for someone like me, if I need help – I’m not afraid to ask.

How was it being only one of two women in your Program at the time?

It was uncomfortable at first. I was used to having all my female friends around me but after a while, you get comfortable and I was totally fine. All the guys were really respectful and nice.

Tell us about your transition into the workplace.

After I completed my Program, I applied for a job at Heli-One. I actually applied for a more junior position but after the interview they called me and offered me a Component Position which was more suitable for my training. At first I was in the less physical part of the component shop, doing a lot of computer work. One of the lead hands saw that I wasn’t utilized and asked if I wanted to help out on a disassembly of a Sikorsky 76 main gearbox. It’s a much bigger component and complex. I was learning about the different tools and how to use them and over time I got more comfortable. I asked for a lot of help from the experienced guys. I got my first Components Technician stamp after a year and a bit – so now I’m able to sign for smaller task that I do (before I had to have someone check my work and I couldn’t sign for anything). Now I’m working towards my second stamp as a Certifying Staff and have more responsibility – and now I’m training someone too!

What do you find challenging about being a woman working in the aviation industry?

I knew from the beginning it’s a male-dominated industry. I was uncomfortable at first but everyone is respectful and professional. Everyone knows what they have to do and their roles. It’s become fun and we all work really well together.

What do you like about working in aviation?

I feel accomplished when I work on a part. I’m contributing to something bigger than myself. It’s just one part – but the helicopter won’t fly without it. It’s also a lot of responsibility. I feel a lot of pride for the work I do and having the responsibility of someone’s safety in my hands. The responsibility and challenge that it presents makes me mindful of what I’m doing.

What advice would you give to someone, a woman or man looking for a career in aviation?

Have an open mind. Women are very capable of doing whatever they want to do. Try it out and see for yourself! You always have options, especially if you are younger, so it’s good to try things outside your comfort zone. 

cta-location
© 2018 Heli-One, a division of CHC Helicopter