- Job TitleAirframe Tech III
- Company Duncan Aviation
- LocationLincoln, NE
I really believe that if you want something badly enough, and you’re willing to put in the necessary work and have the right attitude you’ll get there.
For as long as he can remember Airframe Tech III Connor has been interested in aviation, especially experimental aircraft. After his LDS mission to Russia, he began taking classes for a degree in Aerospace Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona.
During that first semester at Embry-Riddle, Connor was advised that if he wanted to be a good aeronautical engineer and succeed in his goals and aspirations professionally, he would need an A&P along with his degree. He took that advice and chose to return home after that semester. He married his wife, Aynana, and discovered Duncan Aviation.
“I needed a job and was walking around the Provo Airport when I saw the sign for Duncan Aviation at the old hangar location,” says Connor. “I rang the delivery buzzer at the parts delivery door, and I told them I’d like to apply for a job.”
While interviewing with Mitch Robson and Enrique Marquez, Connor told them he wanted to earn his A&P before becoming an engineer, so he could learn how airplanes were put together. At the time he was hired as an Airframe Helper, he was one of about 45 people working for Duncan Aviation in Provo. Connor learned quickly and had a couple of mentors advising him. At the time, Duncan Aviation’s Apprenticeship program in Provo was in the works, but it wasn’t set up or ready for apprentices.
Starting in 2018, Connor began working on the Gulfstream team during the day, and in the evenings, he studied and prepared for the A&P exams.
“At the time, Stephen Snyder was working for Duncan in the Structures department, and he worked on small aircraft outside of work. He often helped teach new team members who were interested in earning their A&P licenses,” says Connor. “He taught me how to work on small aircraft, and he mentored me before the Apprenticeship program here got off the ground. He really gave me a lot of his time.”
Although Connor was studying on his own for the licenses, when he didn’t understand something, he sought answers from Stephen, his mentors, and his team leads.
“The way Duncan Aviation operates is if you ask for help, you get it. The whole company is like this—if you go to someone for help, even if they don’t know the answer, they’ll find it,” says Connor.
He worked hard, pushing himself to learn what he could about aircraft and engines for the exams.
“It’s not easy, but if you want something badly enough, you do whatever you have to do to make it happen,” says Connor.
After he had the necessary hours, he took and passed his Airframe exams in September 2021, and he finished up the requirements and exams for his Powerplant in July of this year.
“Now that I have my A&P out of the way, I can focus on getting my Bachelor’s in Engineering,” says Connor. “I’m a freshman, and I’m working the weekend shift now, so I can take a full class load during the week.”
After finishing his Bachelor’s degree, Connor intends to turn his focus to another of his personal and professional goals: becoming a pilot.
“I want to own my own plane,” says Connor, “and I’d like to design and build it, too. The Experimental category of aircraft allows you to be more creative. I’ve been thinking about this and conceiving of designs since I was about 10 years old.”
Connor’s father is a pilot and an engineer, and 2 of his uncles flew F-16s in the United States Air Force.
“Something about their love of aviation captured my heart, and I haven’t been able to let it go,” says Connor. “It feels like a calling, and I love it.”
He also appreciates the flexibility and support he gets from Duncan Aviation.
“The experience I’ve gained on the floor has taught me about aircraft and how to juggle everything to achieve my goals and dreams. I’ve met some amazing people who’ve been great friends and resources over the last 4 years—both team members and customers,” says Connor.
Working full time and going to school is never easy. Connor also has a wife and 2-year-old son at home. Connor met his wife Aynana on his way home from his mission in Russia. They were both in Moscow, waiting to catch flights to the United States: He was returning home to Utah, and she was also traveling to Utah to study ballet at Utah Valley University. They were married 2 years later.
“Our son Velkan just turned 2, and having a 2-year-old while working and going to school is both the best and the worst thing,” laughs Connor. “Being a husband and a dad is just awesome, but it is a lot to juggle while taking math- and physics-intensive classes. I don’t have a minute to sit down by myself and just not think. Despite being so busy, though, I’m happy with both my work life and my family life.”
Connor has also applied for and received approval for tuition reimbursement for his classes.
“Duncan Aviation is just great—there are so many personal and professional benefits of working here,” says Connor. “If you ask for help, someone will figure out a way to help you. I’m not simply handed what I want, I have to work for it, develop and grow on my own, but I’ve always felt that the company and the members of my team have my back.”
As a person with many goals and aspirations, Connor believes if you’re driven enough, you can go anywhere in life.
“I like that Duncan Aviation responds to me with the same energy that I have and allows me to accomplish the things in life I want to,” says Connor. “I really believe that if you want something badly enough, and you’re willing to put in the necessary work and have the right attitude you’ll get there. Yes, there are days it feels impossible, and there are days you may hate what you’re doing because it’s so hard, but as long as you put your mind to it, you can do it. If you have the right attitude, approach everything with humility and dedication, it’ll happen.”
Connor likes to apply two ideas and a quote he’s learned to his life, especially when things get a little rough.
“I try to live by the 5-minute rule. If something happens, I give myself 5 minutes. If I can change the situation, great. I get to work on it. If I can’t, I have 5 minutes to complain, whine, and accept the reality of things, and then that’s it,” says Connor. “While I was in Russia on my mission, my mission president had a saying: Do your very best and don’t freak out. He clarified that your very best may be different from day-to-day, but always do your best every day, and do it honestly. That helped me with so many disappointments and frustrations. It helps me now in situations at work and school.”
Finally, he loves a quote he’s heard that’s been attributed to Thomas Jefferson and professional golfer Gary Player, and he feels it’s true in his own life: The harder I work, the luckier I get.