Logan mechanic is saluted for 50 years' service
American Airlines aircraft mechanic George Monahan . (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff Photo)
When George Monahan started working on propeller planes in 1960, there were no sensors that alerted pilots when a mountain was looming or another plane was approaching, no radars that predicted a sudden change in wind.
"Airplanes were a lot simpler," he said.
During his five decades in the business, Monahan has learned how to fix every one of these complex pieces of equipment - and train other airplane mechanics around the world to do the same. And today Monahan, 70, is being honored by American Airlines at Logan International Airport for 50 years of service. Airplane mechanics tend to be a loyal and long-lasting bunch - "aviation nuts" as Monahan's supervisor, Krish Prasad, describes them - who have been fascinated by planes since childhood.
"Once they get into this field, they never leave," Prasad said.
After graduating from Brighton High School and attending aviation maintenance technician school at Hanscom Air Force Base, Monahan took a job with Trans World Airlines at Idlewild Airport (now John F. Kennedy International Airport) in New York.
He came back to Boston in 1962 and, aside from a short stint in St. Louis, has worked at Logan ever since - first for TWA, then for American after it acquired TWA in 2001. Crew chief Ed Nutile still likes to tease Monahan about being a "T-way guy."
"I always found it a pleasure to come to work," said Monahan, a thin, soft-spoken man who wears a tie every day.
He lives in Newton with his wife, Clare, and has three children, including WCVB-TV meteorologist J.C. Monahan.
One of the highlights of Monahan's career, along with free first class tickets for the past 25 years, was flying with Pope John Paul II on a charter flight from Baltimore to Rome. Monahan didn't have to do much, just fix a panel in the lavatory, but he did get to have a private conversation with the pope.
"That was the flight of a lifetime," he said.
Despite his 50 years working on planes, Monahan has no plans to retire. And he remains in awe of how they work: "It's just amazing when I stop and think about it."