FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE
OADS visits govt agencies, OEMs and customers with Falcon 50 and Premier IA
Bell UH1 is used in helo development tests for zero-zero LandSafe system.
Maintenance team members (L–R) Dir of Maintenance Donny Vang, Lead Mechanic Dave Akeley, Line Technician Mike Whiteman and Mechanic Mike White with Premier IA and Bell UH1 at HEF.
Akeley also holds an A&P/IA. He joined OADS in Nov 2006 on retiring from the USMC after 21 years. Like Vang, Akeley is a UH1H flightcrew member.
As lead mechanic, Akeley supports the Premier IA flight schedule—typically 1 or 2 missions per week—and works on Rogers' warbirds if other daily requirements permit. Now that the Corsair—itself a project only 3 years ago—is airworthy, the T33 has become the current project aircraft and is worked on when time permits.
Annual inspections and airworthiness directive (AD) work on the Falcon 50 and Premier IA are Akeley's responsibility. The work doesn't stop there, of course. Akeley points out that having such a diverse collection of aircraft means roughly 1 inspection a month.
The Stearman and the AT6 are subject to annual inspections, the F4U Corsair gets conditional inspections and the UH1 requires phase inspections.
Diversity brings many rewards. "We get to use every skill there is," explains Akeley. "We do avionics and electrical, and we work on experimental aircraft. We do our own fabrication and we get to work on recips, radials, power turbines, jet engines, metalwork."
In addition, Akeley considers himself "very fortunate" to work the hours that he and his colleagues do. "There's a real mom-and-pop feel to the organization," he says. "I couldn't ask for better hours."
Rogers describes OADS as "very family oriented." In addition to his wife Alisa, who is both cofounder and executive VP, their daughter is the company's technical director and their son-in-law is test director.
The Rogers' 2 grand-daughters also come to work regularly, although they are not on the payroll. Nor, for that matter, are the Rogers' 2 westies, Ricky and Lucy, who accompany them on most missions and may well be the most widely traveled westies on the planet.
"Both Phil and Alisa are very familiar with all their employees," says Akeley. "It's unique. Their whole thing is family." Bienlien adds, "Phil and Alisa create an atmosphere that takes into account family." He continues, "The job allows me to have good quality time with my family and allows me to be closer to my kids."3