91 Year Old Celebrates 75 Years Anniversary Working For American Airlines

Filed Under: American

No, that’s not a typo. Yesterday Azriel “Al” Blackman celebrated 75 years of service with American Airlines. Al is an aviation maintenance technician, and there was a ceremony to commemorate him, for which Doug Parker, American’s CEO, was in attendance. At the ceremony they dedicated a 777 in his honor — how cool! On top of that, Al was presented with a Guinness World Record for having the longest career as an airline mechanic. And is if that’s not cool enough, he was then taken on a joyride above New York on “his” 777.

Per American’s press release:

When Blackman was just 16 years old he graduated from Aviation High School in Manhattan and took a job with American Airlines (American Export Airlines at the time) as an apprentice in the Sheet Metal Shop for $.50 an hour. During his 75 years with American Blackman has worked on some of aviation’s most fascinating aircraft. Although his shift technically starts at 5 a.m. Blackman arrives at the hangar just before 3 a.m. most days.

“When I first started as a junior mechanic Al was my crew chief and he was celebrating his 45th anniversary. I thought to myself, ‘45 years with one company. That’s amazing,’” commented Robert Needham, senior manager Aircraft Line Maintenance, JFK. “Here we are celebrating his 75th, 30 years later, and it’s just mind-blowing.”

“When you like what you do, it’s not work,” commented Blackman.

It’s clear Al has a real passion for what he does, and it seems like he works because he enjoys it, and not because he has to.

Here’s a local Fox5 segment about yesterday’s celebration, where he explains he’ll keep coming to work every day (apparently two hours early, just because) for as long as he’s physically able to:

Al, you’re my hero! I can only dream of being alive at 91, let alone being a tenth as awesome as you are.

  1. The only reason the Asshole Abu Al Baker wants to buy a stake in AA is to fire these old ppl from the workforce

  2. In my opinion, I don’t understand what is being celebrated here? A culture of work and no leisure?Reminds me of the delta safety video that boasted that people work long hours because they care and I’m shaking my head thinking “No Mr Bastian how about you hire more people and let people go home after their shift is over and get rest and spend time with their families and friends?”.

  3. All 401ks have been enhanced away by Chapter 11 proceedings, so a 91 year old is forced to stay on the workforce? SAD!

  4. are there any physical guidelines to a aviation mechanic? At 91, you might be losing your hearing, vision and don’t have the same physical strength as previously. All those things probably come in handy in that type of job….

    Also I agree with everyone else, working at 91 is nothing to celebrate.

  5. a bunch of communists in these replies

    the man loves his job and wants to work get off his nuts – you know where you certainly won’t find him when he retires? whining on internet message boards

  6. Thumbs up for his passion to aviation!
    But… would you let do an 91y old doctor any surgery on you? I doubt it!
    And he still is in charge to keep those airplanes safe in the air? That’s creepy…

  7. He must be proud of the company he works for and likes doing the job he’s doing, so I’m happy to see him still loving what he does. Technicians probably need to go through periodic training courses, certifications, etc. so the fact that he’s working on aircraft doesn’t alarm me in the slightest. That being said I hope to God I will not be working when I’m 91, and if I am, I certainly don’t want anyone celebrating it.

  8. If this is what makes him happy, if it’s what he enjoys and he is still competent at his job then why is it so bad that he’s still there? This is a moment and a man worth celebrating. I certainly don’t plan to be working that long but I’m not going to criticize a widower who finds fulfillment at getting up in the morning and being a part of getting aircraft into the air.

    For the naysayers among you let me ask the question. If he was a volunteer with the CAF who choose to spend his time keeping warbirds in the air would you be so critical? What about guys like Don Rickles who kept doing shows well into his old age? That was his job and he enjoyed it was there something wrong with that?

    I’m with you lucky the man is a hero and I’d love to meet him some day (sadly he’s not at my airline) and just listen to him tell stories. I bet he has some great ones. Thanks or sharing this.

  9. The video says that he is currently working as a crew chief. So he is in charge of making sure all the mechanics get things right. And who better to do that than someone that has seen just about everything a plane can throw at you?

  10. @121Pilot
    Bravo you get it.

    And for those of you who are critical (people who think work is a chore) realize he loves it. And as a crew chief he simply manages and oversees certain operations. Why do so many people view older people as thou they can’t contribute just because of age. If you watched the video you would understand he is still very capable. To many people work can be very gratifying even as much as leisure activities such as golf or fishing. We can learn much from these folks.
    God Bless him

  11. So many negative hateful comments obviously from people who think if you are over 65 you should be on the scrap heap and in a care home
    Some people actually enjoy working and interaction with other people
    No one forces him to work
    There are many 91 year olds who are still dexterous and have good vision

  12. “hey man you had your turn and it lasted (30, 40, 50 years) a long time. How about you give someone else a shot?”

    -said a bunch of mechanics with families to feed who never got the gig

  13. As someone who is closer to 91 than 21, I think this is great. I hope to still be working when I am in my nineties. I love what I do and find great joy in my work as I believe Al Blackman does. For those of you who think there is nothing to celebrate and that Al should not be working, I’d argue maybe you are in the wrong job. A great job, a great family and good health makes for a wonderful life at any age. I truly believe if you do something you love, you’ll never “work” a day of your life.

  14. I love that he loves his job and he’s been a great employee and i’m not saying he is loosing his mind or anything, but I do find it sad that he is still working at 91.

    He’s either super rich and loves what he does, or broke and still needs to work.

    As long as his judgement is still good and he’s not loosing his marbles, people can if they choose work until they die if they want.

  15. Thank our lucky stars here in Australia with our amazing work laws and benefits we don’t have to do this. Our health system and superannuation laws allow us to have a great lifestyle in retirement. ” Keep Australia great” The best county in the world.

  16. Agree with Lucky and some others here – a great tribute to a great man! Last night on the ABC Evening News they showed his story along with video of his flyover. Very moving!

    Last week I was seated next to an 81 year old Concierge Key holder a flight from PHL and he’s still working as a research chemist and traveling the world. I happen to be in the camp of those who love my work and these gentlemen are truly an inspiration.

  17. In an article I read earlier, it said another mechanic doube checks his work in order to see if he made a mistake.

  18. To have a plane dedicated to you is beyond cool!!
    To been able to work at 91 years old in a job you love because you want it, is a bless.
    Thanks Lucky/Ben, this is a great post and something to celebrate.

  19. Amazing story! Thanks @lucky Ben! Let’s just celebrate Al’s passion and dedication to aviation industry!

  20. My mother retired a nurse, and went back to work as a volunteer, I am retired, and enjoyed the clients I worked with,

    It was never about the money, it is about sharing time with people you enjoy being with.

    I never worked a day in my life, I still visit the office, and I am one of the owners of the company.

  21. Some people only work to live while others live to work. Obviously this 92 year old man had a serious passion for his work. A paying hobby that rewarded him with self satisfaction. Gone are the days when people actually enjoyed being at work and sharing their enthusiam with ther fellow workers.

  22. So many clueless “worldly” people commenting on a man who loves his job. It’s not work if you love what you’re doing . . . and if you don’t, the money eventually loses it’s value. Stick around awhile kids and learn about life.

  23. The dude looks better and as sharp as most 50yr olds I work with…. rock on and kick some seniority ass!

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