96-Year-Old Celebrates 80 Years Working At American Airlines

96-Year-Old Celebrates 80 Years Working At American Airlines

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This week American Airlines’ most senior employee is celebrating his 80th anniversary. No, not his 80th birthday, but his 80th anniversary of working for the airline.

Al Blackman celebrates 80 years with American Airlines

Azriel “Al” Blackman is this week celebrating 80 years of service with American Airlines. Al is an aviation maintenance technician based in New York. Not surprisingly, Blackman holds the Guinness World Record for having the longest career as an airline mechanic.

Al Blackman, American’s most senior employee

In 1942, Blackman graduated from Aviation High School in Manhattan and started working at American Export Airlines (a predecessor to American Airlines). He initially worked as an apprentice in the sheet metal shop, making 50 cents per hour. Obviously he worked his way up from there.

I’m not sure if it’s still the case, but as of a few years ago his shift would start at 5AM, but most days he’d arrive at work just a bit before 3AM (as one does).

Rumor has it that American will be celebrating his 80th anniversary this week, and I imagine the airline will soon have a press release about this. For his 75th anniversary, the airline dedicated a Boeing 777 in his honor, which he then took on a joyride above New York. Former American CEO Doug Parker was even in attendance.

Below you can see a video from Al’s 75th anniversary party (like I said, I bet we’ll see one from his 80th anniversary as well).

This is a pretty amazing feat

Many will no doubt be in disbelief that a 96-year-old is still working, and make jokes about the “American dream.” Fair enough.

Personally I can’t help but just be overjoyed when I hear stories like this, mainly because these kinds of employees typically have such passion for what they do. During his 75th anniversary celebration, Blackman commented “when you like what you do, it’s not work.” Amen.

Most of us can only dream of being alive at the age of 96, let alone being able to come to work every day and do something that we enjoy and find fulfilling. I imagine his job gives him a great deal of fulfillment and joy.

Now, I’d imagine that some of Blackman’s work may be double checked, but assuming he’s not coming to work every day because he has to in order to make ends meet, I think that’s a pretty awesome milestone.

Similarly, I recently wrote about American’s most senior flight attendant, who is 86 years old and celebrating her 65th anniversary at the airline. She’s also an awesome vibe.

Bottom line

A 96-year-old American Airlines mechanic is celebrating his 80th work anniversary, making him the most senior employee at the airline, and probably the most senior employee in the airline industry. There should be some festivities for him at the airline this week, and I imagine we’ll also see a press release soon.

Keep it up, Al!

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  1. David Smith Guest

    Great effort, I have been working as an aircraft engineer in Australia for a mere fifty years. Have a 6am start tomorrow you are an inspiration to me tooking forward to the next 30 years✈

  2. Brian Gasser Guest

    Al looks great in the photo for being 90+ years old. I love the old Rolex he is wearing. Seems very classy.

  3. Nico Guest

    Sadly this shouldn’t be celebrated. The fest is impressive and thankfully do reward him with a special moment.

    However, people shouldn’t have to be in a situation where they have to work 80 years of their life, his retirement money should be enough to have him make ends meet.

    1. Don Guest

      I can't believe you think he has to work. He works,like me,because he loves what he does. I'm near 90 and still work at a local airport. I'm retired and definitely DON'T have have to work for the money. I've been working on aircraft since 1952 and intend to as long as I'm able.

  4. M J Smith Guest

    I worked for Blackie while on the vacation relief crew for a very short time in 1989, back then he was already #1 on the AMT seniority list. He is a total gentleman and his good nature affected everyone near him. It was a please to know him, a true aviation legend.

  5. George Guest

    The great is from his regular daily work.

  6. Dhairyashil Vandekar Guest

    Amazing Al! You have done our aviation industry proud by your commitment, dedication and passion for your work! True inspiration for us all and for generations to come!
    Keep going Al and stay blessed !
    God Bless You & AA! ✈

  7. Kandy Doty Guest

    Praise the Lord, What an amazing story.
    Let's pray that american Air Lines gives him what he deserves for all those years. How about a nice vacation ito any destination
    Of his choice for 3 weeks all expenses paid.
    May the Lord continue to keep you healthy
    And allow you to stay doing what you enjoy.

  8. Tantan Guest

    Wow what a wonderful story! Yey to Mr. Blackman and American airlines

  9. Enid Laukam Guest

    Congratulations to Mr Blackman. O had the honor of working along side him. Full of jokes made me smile a lot. Nice man. Great personality and master mechanic. A dinosaur

  10. Margaret Weekley Guest

    God Bess you Blackie. You are an incredibly strong man and devoted to your lifes work. We are so proud of you.

  11. Donna Meketarian Guest

    Congratulations! Al, you are to be commended for your dedication, and your great work ethic! I recognize you, as I too flew out of JFK! God Bless and keep you Sir! ✝️

    1. Walter Guest

      Awsome, but why does author assume his work has to be checked? Ageist?

  12. Nicholas Ivanovich Guest

    God bless you! If only you would hear more stories of great inspiration like this to get these kids of today off their asses and quit dilly-dallying on their cell phones and get a decent work ethic.

  13. Christophe Guest

    Not surprised they lost a child

  14. Christophe Guest

    It should be illegal to work that long it's illegal in other countries American airline is a bad company anyway with poor service

    1. Brian Gasser Guest

      @Christophe Chill out. Joe Biden is 79 and President. While not in his sharpest condition, you can work into your late ages and get the job done.

  15. Sergio Mani Guest

    high emotions pour tears like these ones on my face...congrat to them...

  16. FARDEL Guest

    This guy does not look 96 to me.More likely late sixties...
    Congrarts

    1. Sergio Mani Guest

      *smile* working is the eternal..almost....fountain of youth..working guys have no time to get older.....God bless them..

  17. Colette Guest

    Good Job Al Happy Anniversary ❤️ Have a great party

  18. (Sarah) Teresa Tyler C/C MLS Guest

    What an amazing man. Our maintenance base at Tulsa painted that 75 year on the 777 for him. Wish I could personally meet him.

  19. Angela Wood Guest

    And I thought Ron’s service as an Engineer was long on today’s standard, (he was in his 50th year when he died from multiple Myeloma). This guys service is outstanding.

  20. Scott Guest

    I bet his work is top notch. Why do you say that you imagine some of his work needs double checked? It is more likely that he keeps the young inexperienced ones in check!

  21. Clockman Guest

    I worked in another department back in 1988 and we used to talk every morning in the break room in the hanger.
    He’s the nicest guy and gave me plenty of advice. He once offered to co-sign for me a home on Long Island….I respectfully declined. I’m blessed to know him and have worked around him.
    They called me the Clockman.

  22. Ale Guest

    We have a guy like him working for American over at Bradley international, he's 86 and completely useless. Where's the article about how much more difficult work is when they let these guys work well after they're supposed to retire. Yeah it's great he's in good shape but 80 years in airline mechanics doesn't mean much if you can't even lift your tools to begin with. Give people the opportunity to retire instead of working...

    We have a guy like him working for American over at Bradley international, he's 86 and completely useless. Where's the article about how much more difficult work is when they let these guys work well after they're supposed to retire. Yeah it's great he's in good shape but 80 years in airline mechanics doesn't mean much if you can't even lift your tools to begin with. Give people the opportunity to retire instead of working them for 80 years and "congratulating" them.

    1. Shaun Laverty Guest

      I think this is a PR stunt and coup for the airline rather than the individual himself. If they have to 'double check ' his work that kind of negates the argument for having him still in his role. Not convinced I'm affraid.

  23. M.C. ROSIE ROSENSTEIN Guest

    WELL DESERVED BEING HONORED. IN 2022 THESE JOBS NOT THAT EASY DEALING WITH THE TIMES AND PAYING CUSTOMERS.HATS OFFTO YOU FOLKS ROSIE ROSENSTEINPAN AM 1958-1991

  24. April Price Guest

    Congrats Al best AMT at AAL!!

  25. Eddie Price Guest

    I'm truly happy for this gentleman's accomplishment but I wish they could deliver my bags.

  26. Pilarvillanueva Guest

    Congratulations!!!!!you are the really American worker man. God bless you

  27. D Pilit Guest

    Congratulations. You look pretty good for 96. I looked older than that at 50.

  28. Marlene Necastro Guest

    Congratulations Al on your accomplishments in life, what an incredible journey you made your life to be. AA you honored him 1st class and are amazing in the industry of aviation when an employee considers their job, enjoyment, that says it all to all who run American Airlines. Keep up the awesome work you all do.

  29. TECAA Guest

    Just think about this, Al started at AA before airports were popular! He had to wade into Flushing Bay and tie a line to Sikorsky FLYING
    BOATS to be pulled in on rails with a dolly and worked on in the hanger at the NY Marine Air Terminal Hangar, now called Laguardia Airport! He's worked on every plane American Airlines flew up to the 777-200 that bears his name, 7AB as mechanics refer to...

    Just think about this, Al started at AA before airports were popular! He had to wade into Flushing Bay and tie a line to Sikorsky FLYING
    BOATS to be pulled in on rails with a dolly and worked on in the hanger at the NY Marine Air Terminal Hangar, now called Laguardia Airport! He's worked on every plane American Airlines flew up to the 777-200 that bears his name, 7AB as mechanics refer to it. Always a gentleman and professional, congratulations AL on your 80th year! Now, it is your BREAK TIME, it was a pleasure working with you!

  30. Ascot Guest

    Can he hold a July vacation?

    1. Scott Davidson (Wingman) Guest

      Correct, that is the reason most people do not want to fully retire.
      There was a rancher around me where I live. That was his reason he just loved getting up and going to work.
      He was such a smart man. I loved to talk with him. He lived to be 96.
      Glad Al is happy this is such a feel good story.

  31. Mario Herrera Guest

    Congratulations sir on 80 years with American, you are a true inspiration

  32. Christopher Weiss Guest

    I worked at JFK between 10/15/92 to 9/9/98, before I transferred to MIA. Al "Blackie" Blackman was my Crew Chief, when I would work Dayshift or Overtime at the Hangar. One of the most knowledgeable Aircraft Maintenance Technician I ever had, and he was always quick with a few jokes. I will always cherish the time I spent with "Blackie".

  33. J Sull Guest

    Good on Al. Honestly many people I know from that place in time just flat out enjoy working and being productive. They take pride in what they have done, and never really want to ever completely stop. Retirement is not for everyone. Some people will just go crazy with boredom.

  34. Scott Bonita Guest

    I wish I hadn’t taken the retirement package when UAL filed chapter 11. The sole purpose by United was to tear apart every contract. It screwed all pilots , mechanics , ground And Inflight out of $4.5 Billion. It was the best career ever. I miss the educational level of fellow flying crews , and comraderie and the freedom Congratulations to those who stuck out all the bumps along the way.

  35. Al Guest

    Yes, let’s all toast Al.
    But why are you sure his work probably gets double checked? Is it because he’s some old geezer who walks around squirting 3-n-1 oil on everything and banging random things with a wood hammer.
    I realize you’re a ginger, who generally are ill mannered, but that’s no excuse for your ageist remark.

  36. Donato Guest

    A while back we took my Aunt to an orthopedist because of leg pain. He took one look and told his assistant "that is a hip, schedule surgery". We were uncomfortable because the dr. was close to 90 years old and we were not sure he should still operate. Through the grapevine we found out the Hospital management was secretly monitoring him once a week, the last report was that the young surgeon assisting and...

    A while back we took my Aunt to an orthopedist because of leg pain. He took one look and told his assistant "that is a hip, schedule surgery". We were uncomfortable because the dr. was close to 90 years old and we were not sure he should still operate. Through the grapevine we found out the Hospital management was secretly monitoring him once a week, the last report was that the young surgeon assisting and monitoring wished he had those skills. The patient was up and walking out of the Hospital 3 days later and resumed normal life, refused therapy.
    Yes, off topic but related to assumptions regarding old age.

  37. Freddie Haubner Guest

    Pilots àre no longer able to fly after a certain age. Why in the world would American Airlines not have the same policy for a airline mechanic.

    1. Ale Guest

      Because they call "age discrimination" when we call HR on them for literally not being able to work while also being tired of "doing them favors" everyday to literally help them get by at work.

  38. Guest Guest

    He doesn't actually "work" for the airline anymore. He's been on leave for awhile, American just keeps him listed as employed to be their own mascot.

    1. Scott Davidson (Wingman) Guest

      Correct, that is the reason most people do not want to fully retire.
      There was a rancher around me where I live. That was his reason he just loved getting up and going to work.
      He was such a smart man. I loved to talk with him. He lived to be 96.
      Glad Al is happy this is such a feel good story.

  39. Juan Garcia Guest

    Congratulations on your Anniversary with American Airlines. God bless you

  40. george booth Guest

    GOD BLESS YOU AL, for helping keep our planes safe, and setting a work ethic I wish others would follow.

    Thank You,

    george
    San Antonio

  41. Dale D. Guest

    You nailed it and congratulations! Loving what you have chosen for a career combined with a strong work ethic are two of the most important elements for yourself and the employer to attain a life of work related success and happiness. I talk to young people frequently about choosing a career path and will use this as an example when they whine the words "l can't".

  42. Luis Guest

    That proof :if you are healthy ,like what you do,Do not discriminate or segregate any body because aged or any other adjective.Congratulatios to AA ,God bless him. Procer L

  43. Mike G Guest

    Long past due to retire. Pilots have a mandatory retirement age. Aircraft mechanics should as well.

  44. Jumpseatflyer Guest

    Props to Al, what a fantastic career. He literally can draw upon years of professional experience. And he must have one hell of an onload priority :)

    1. Michael New Member

      American establishes priority based on time of check-in, so he actually has the exact same onload priority as the dependent of an Envoy new hire!

  45. FlyerDon Guest

    Now where did I leave that wrench?

    1. Samuel Young Guest

      I Wish him well.for sure he will keep all the flights airworthy. I m a UAL mechanic from SFO ,retired with 31 years of experience. Nice to hear the heart warming story

    2. Mike G Guest

      Exactly!! How is he not a liability and a safety concern?

  46. Leigh Guest

    Emotional to watch.

    All AvGeeks could only hope for similar lifetime fulfillment.

  47. Tom Montresor Guest

    That’s awesome, congratulations & thank you for being a genuine inspiration to so many.

  48. Amy Fischer Guest

    Congratulations to him. He deserves it. While having old ladies as flight attendants is not helpful when it should be an under 35 job before mother or fatherhood, ground crew or airport workers are a different story. Very nice story.

    1. David Murray Guest

      Really Amy ? Old ladies ?….. you are just plain rude ! Geez

    2. Lcat Guest

      Your mommy and daddy must be very proud of how they raised you Amy. So happy you’re not related to me. Sad.

  49. Angelo C Guest

    Worked at JFK for AA for many years. When I started it was his 49th year. Always said hi and went about his business. God Bless Al!

  50. Greg Guest

    I also love how they brought Bob Crandall in for the 75th tribute

    1. Angelo C. Guest

      I escorted Bob and his wife in. It was Al's personal request he be there. It was a special day.

    2. Carolyn Davis Guest

      Congratulations! I heard the wonderful stories about Al on a daily basis while working at LGA!

  51. Steve A. Guest

    I worked with Al as a Crew Chief for American in the 1970's. I am retired 22 years..

  52. Apple Guest

    Am the only one that thinks these types of stories are sorta sad?

    1. Bruno Guest

      I guess it depends on whether the employee is staying that long because he/she wants to or has to. Big difference.

    2. Nicolas Guest

      They are, but Americans are too brainwashed by capitalist dystopia to notice

  53. Robinson Guest

    Al may you have a healthy and prosperous life, you have been one of the few that have made such a different.. you rock my friend!!

  54. Donna Diamond

    Glad they put his name on a 777! Nice tribute to a great man.

  55. Marguerite Guest

    What a wonderful man of great work ethics. Why the comment on others having to check his work? Mature workers are always better for their attention to detail and focus. This is called ageism and diminishes his commitment and hard work!

  56. Tullio Guest

    What a coincidence, I also graduated from Aviation High School in 1972 as FAA aviation
    technician with Airframe & Poweplant licenses !
    Those were the days !

  57. George Romey Guest

    Dang he looks much younger than 96. He and Betty out to get together.

  58. Tim Dunn Diamond

    what an incredible person.
    When you love what you do, it isn't work and you never want to stop doing it.

  59. Reno Joe Guest

    Great story. Thanks Ben.

    With his tenure, he absolutely has first dibs on overtime.

  60. Syd Guest

    K fellas, on this blog we all hate each other for a host of reasons... But for once wanna get together and toast to this man? Let's hope he has many more of these & continues to enjoy every bit of it.

    1. Dale D. Guest

      You nailed it and congratulations! Loving what you have chosen for a career combined with a strong work ethic are two of the most important elements for yourself and the employer to attain a life of work related success and happiness. I talk to young people frequently about choosing a career path and will use this as an example when they whine the words "l can't".

  61. MildMidwesterner Member

    Fun Fact: Orville Wright was still alive when Al Blackman started working for American Airlines.

    1. FlyingPhysicist New Member

      Makes sense since Orville died in 1948.

  62. DN_03755 Guest

    Aviation High School is actually in Sunnyside/Long Island City, in Queens. It's one subway stop away from JetBlue's headquarters

    1. SamB Member

      The current campus opened in 1958; in 1942, it was located in Manhattan

  63. Ali Guest

    I think this shows you (us) the "cream of the crop" when Aviation-Focused Schooling/Degrees/ are in place where talent is cultivated. It is an amazing career. Look at how things that have changed. Many airlines have shifted towards the "disposable staff" policy. Of course, then complaining about staff shortages. Airlines back in the day actually offered training, development programs for Fresh Grads, let alone sponsoring Flight School for Pilots.. thats before going cheap and stopping...

    I think this shows you (us) the "cream of the crop" when Aviation-Focused Schooling/Degrees/ are in place where talent is cultivated. It is an amazing career. Look at how things that have changed. Many airlines have shifted towards the "disposable staff" policy. Of course, then complaining about staff shortages. Airlines back in the day actually offered training, development programs for Fresh Grads, let alone sponsoring Flight School for Pilots.. thats before going cheap and stopping all this. Look at where that has gotten the industry into...

    1. Ali Guest

      For "New Joiners" into the industry, it is nothing more than a temp/stepping stone, which is very understandable. The General Public expects flights to be there for them, Corporate expects employees to be accept all the "new" innovations in making the new contracts terrible. The same can be said about the Hospitality Industry. The Race to the Bottom, with no "Bottom" insight. Well, Maybe "False Bottoms".. They always manage to go lower.

    2. Nico Guest

      Im an american airlines employee but my opinions do not represent the company. If you are an aircraft mechanic id say its going to be a great ride if you are starting right now. If i had a 16 year old kid i would push for him or her to go that way. By the time they are 30 they would be making over 100k base plus overtime plus benefits. And you dont ever deal with customers. Whats not to love?

    3. Greg Guest

      UNITED is Rising, sponsoring the new UNITED AVIATE flight academy in Goodyear, Arizona

    4. Ali Guest

      Yeah In 2022 to control the damage they’ve caused. It’s a bit too late isn’t it?

  64. Charles Guest

    According to Akbar Al Baker, Delta have flight attendants that are equally as old

    1. Rav Guest

      Yes & he was slammed for doing so.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

TravelinWilly Diamond

Yes.

3
Angelo C Guest

Worked at JFK for AA for many years. When I started it was his 49th year. Always said hi and went about his business. God Bless Al!

2
Donna Diamond

Glad they put his name on a 777! Nice tribute to a great man.

2
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