Air Force

November 8, 2013

From artist to engine mechanic

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Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office

Senior Airman Patrick Corcoran, 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron propulsion technician, stands in front of a mural he airbrushed at Davis-Monthan. The mural took him approximately six weeks to complete and is the second of five murals to be painted in the 755th AMXS hanger.

When some Airmen join the military, people won’t know who they are years from now, but once in a while you find someone who leaves something behind.

Senior Airman Patrick Corcoran, 755th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron propulsion technician, is a passionate artist who is leaving his mark in the squadron’s hanger.

Corcoran has always had an interest for art. He draws and does watercolors, but his favorite medium is airbrushing. Growing up, a neighbor who worked as an auto body painter gave him some guidance.

“One day, he pulled out a truck and it had the checkered flag all the way down the side,” Corcoran said. “I asked him about it and he gave me a book on airbrushing and custom automotive painting.”

Along with the book, Corcoran’s neighbor offered him one piece of advice that really stuck. He wished he had gone to art school first and then learned how to do auto paint instead of the other way around.

In 2007, Corcoran received a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the American Academy of Art in Chicago, and tried for two and half years to make his artwork a career.

“It was hard to live off the money,” he said. “One week you might make $2000 and then not get another job for over three weeks.”

When his wife became pregnant, priorities changed. Corcoran decided to join the Air Force.

“I joined for stability,” Corcoran said. “If I were to get sick, it would be okay. What were to happen if my son got sick? He wouldn’t have insurance. I needed to look out for him.”

For two years he put his artwork aside to focus on the Air Force mission.

“I knew how to airbrush,” he said. “What I needed to focus on was aircraft engines. I needed to be able to study and know what I was doing, and do it well. If I didn’t know what I was doing for my job, I would have got kicked out and had to start over again.”

Once Corcoran was settled in and comfortable with his knowledge and experience of engines, he made his way back into the world of art.

“No one in the shop knew I drew,” he said. “They knew I had a degree but they didn’t know in what. I never drew at work or did anything artistic.”

When Corcoran began airbrushing again, he started displaying his work and received very positive feedback. He was even asked to airbrush communication sets for some of his co-workers.

Earlier this year, he talked with his leadership and was approved to airbrush murals in the squadron.

“He is a go-to technician and is very passionate about what he does,” said Master Sgt. Donald Gerhart, 755th AMXS section chief. “He stepped up and asked if he could do some artwork in the hanger. His first task was the painting of the squadron patch and next the EC-130H.”

The mural of the EC-130H Compass Call took him about 36 hours over a six week time span, to complete.

“I would work on the pieces whenever I had down time,” he said. “Some days I would get two hours in, while other days I would maybe get 20 minutes.”

The squadron is working with Corcoran to paint three more murals, however, as much as he loves to airbrush, Corcoran does get burnt out.

“I go through spurts,” he said. “I don’t just do it two hours here and there. When I’m in it, I’m in it for a couple weeks straight, and then I got to take a step back and relax.”

Corcoran enjoys his hobby and finds it a great stress-relief.




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(U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey)

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