Campus Connections: AIM Atlanta Metro

Chris Kraft in the Coast Guard standing in front of a helicopter

Written by Sherita Sutton & Chris Kraft

Chris Kraft’s interest in aviation was sparked at a very young age. He was originally inspired by the chance to watch the last Apollo rockets take off from Cape Canaveral, and by growing up with a grandfather who worked for Pratt & Whitney. Intrigued by the prestige of aviation and the fact that most people will never be given the opportunity to work on or operate any aircraft, Kraft knew that he wanted to be an aircraft mechanic. At age 17, Kraft entered the United States Coast Guard. There he completed aviation structural mechanic school to become a flight mechanic and crew chief. Every time he worked on those aircraft, he knew that he was also the one that had to fly them, so he made sure it was done right. In that short period of time, he acquired the ability to fly helicopters and hoist injured people out of strange and scary situations.

Being part of the U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue team was the start of the most interesting job that he would ever have. Throughout his service, Kraft was involved in well over 2,000 rescues. Through his career in the military, Kraft had a habit of volunteering for missions and positions most people would not. He was deployed around the globe and enjoyed every minute of the opportunities he maintained and the opportunities he had flying multiple aircrafts such as the HH52A Sikorsky, MH65C Dolphin, and HU25 Falcon Jet.

During his time as a U.S. Coast Guard, Kraft attended sniper school and is now a member of the select few Coast Guardsman that can call themselves snipers. Drug enforcement was his passion for many years while on active duty. Kraft was part of a special unit that used two helicopters in tandem, which required the right mechanics and crew chiefs to maintain them on the long missions throughout the Caribbean. He has traveled extensively because of this and has been on every island in the Caribbean and all throughout South America, Greenland, Iceland, and the Middle East. He obtained his A&P license while on active duty to prepare for the civilian life he knew would follow his military career. An avid learner, Kraft has acquired his FAA Inspection Authorization license and other certifications including welding, FAA Nondestructive Inspection, heating and air-conditioning licenses, and more. As a civilian, he took jobs at small airports where he worked on a wide variety of aircraft including Cessnas, Pipers, and Bell Helicopters. He also worked for a few years with the forestry service fighting fires using helicopters and Bambi buckets.

Kraft has been in three aircraft accidents and walked away every time. During his last recovery session, he found a new passion for training aviation. When he retired from the military, he found Aviation Institute of Maintenance Atlanta Metro. Here at AIM, Kraft is the go-to person for any question in the building and is currently serving as the Day Program Coordinator. We are so happy Kraft has decided to continue his aviation career by teaching new mechanics so that the passion he has for aviation can be planted in future mechanics.  

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