By Maria José Subiria
Though some women may seek careers that don't require them to get their hands dirty, a Delta Air Lines employee's interests have led her to look for something a bit grittier than an office job.
Morgen Stone is a supply attendant for the Materials and Logistics Department of Delta Air Lines at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. She has been working in her current position for two years. Her job responsibilities include ensuring that aviation maintenance technicians have the necessary supplies - like parts, tools and chemicals - to repair and maintain Delta's airplanes.
Stone's responsibilities also include shipping parts to other Delta locations, processing unserviceable parts removed from aircraft, creating and sending work orders for parts, and maintaining inventory.
She said she enjoys working at IHOP, one of Delta's Atlanta Line Stock Rooms playfully nicknamed the "International House of Parts," which is located at Concourse E.
"Over here, you're just working international flights and you get to know the mechanics better," said Stone, who is enrolled in courses to become a certified aviation maintenance technician. The other Atlanta Line Stock Room, located at Concourse A, supplies aircraft at Concourses T, A and B with mechanical parts, she said.
"Aviation industry policies, procedures and regulations are constantly changing," said Stone. "It's important that I am always following the most up-to-date information. To ensure that we are always up to speed, our team is required to check revisions on a daily basis."
Stone works during the second shift, from 2:30 to 10 p.m., the busiest shift in the Materials and Logistics Department, because the majority of Delta's flights depart and arrive during that span of time.
She said the most rewarding part of working as a supply attendant is delivering a part to "Ship on Delay" aircraft, which are those experiencing a mechanical issue. In those cases, passengers are usually on board while the aviation maintenance technicians wait for a given part to arrive so they can repair and dispatch the plane, Stone said.
"When I see all the passengers waiting on the plane, these are the times where I realize how big of a role I play in passenger safety, and how many lives my job truly affects ... When moments like [these] occur, it helps me remember that even though I am a small piece in a larger puzzle, the job I do is significant," Stone said. "It is an amazing feeling to be part of something so global."
Stone said Delta charters flights for sport teams, and as a baseball fanatic, being able to meet baseball teams such as the Atlanta Braves is her favorite part of the job. In addition, as a Delta employee, Stone is able to travel to a variety of cities and visit baseball stadiums throughout the nation.
For Stone, working in the aviation industry was challenging when she first began as a supply attendant, because it is a male-dominated industry.
"On my shift, there are only two other females," she said. "I was concerned that my colleagues would judge me by my appearance, and underestimate my capabilities."
Stone said she comes from a single-parent home in Oakland, Calif., where she was born and raised. Stone said she moved to Atlanta when she was 16, because Atlantic Southeast Airlines, Delta's regional operator, offered her mother a position in the company. Her mother introduced her to the world of aviation by assisting her in landing a job at Atlantic Southeast Airlines. Stone worked as a baggage handler for a month, and later moved on to work at ASA Materials. The position ultimately led Stone to consider the aviation industry as a permanent career.
She said her mother is now an aviation maintenance technician at John F. Kennedy International Airport, in New York.
Stone said she joined Delta because of the positive reviews employees shared with her. What appeals to her most about her job is being close to the aircraft, learning about the different components of an airplane, and experiencing how Delta operates on a daily basis.
Stone said she is enrolled in the aviation maintenance technician program at Atlanta Technical College, which will eventually allow her to become a certified Airframe and Powerplants Mechanic. She has been in school since 2007.
"Watching my mother survive the industry has given me the courage and inspiration to go after my dreams too. I have the qualifications needed to succeed in the aviation business," said Stone. "I am driven, determined and focused. I have always considered my greatest strength to be my perseverance. I refuse to let any person, or idea, stop me from obtaining my dream of a career in the aviation industry."
Stone was the winner of the $5,000 Delta Air Lines Maintenance Technology Scholarship in 2008, from Women in Aviation International, she said. In order to be eligible for the scholarship, Stone had to be a full-time student majoring in aviation maintenance management, or aviation management. Stone's essay convinced the judges that she was deserving of the scholarship.
"Winning this scholarship truly made me feel like Delta believes in me," Stone said. "I was the first Delta employee to win this scholarship, and it is something I am very proud of."
According to Women in Aviation International's web site, www.wai.org, the organization was established in 1994 to encourage women to seek opportunities in the world of aviation.
The Delta Air Lines Maintenance Technology Scholarship included a trip to San Diego, Calif., to attend the International Women in Aviation Conference, Stone said.
"It was a wonderful chance to meet other women that work in the aviation industry, and bond," she said. "It was so inspiring to hear other women's stories."