Around 2,000 people put on their walking shoes and sunscreen to participate in what turned out to be the biggest Mojave Plane Crazy Saturday yet April 21.
More than 200 airplanes were flown in, filling the entire main flightline, from the new airport tower down to the Scaled Composites building.
The unusual size of this month’s Plane Crazy was the result of two events happening at the same time, a fly-in for the Vintage Mooney Association, and the first-ever “Career Day” open house hosted by Scaled Composites.
“People even flew in to LAX via commercial airlines, rented cars and came for interviews,” said Cathy Hansen, Mojave Transportation Museum board member.
People reported having traveled from Colorado, Kentucky and Texas for the event. Around 300 people had RSVPed ahead of time and 40-60 of those were engineers. As visitors approached the Scaled hangar, with resumes in hand, they were greeted by various aircraft including WhiteKnightTwo, Starship and the Northrop Grumman Firebird in its first-ever public appearance. Also lined up outside were employees personal projects including Long Ez’s, Symmetry, a Christian Eagle, hand gliders, Boomerang and a replica Wright Flyer.
Inside the hangar, with WhiteKnightOne, were various booths categorized by department including Human Resources, Composite Fabricators, Program Business Management and Engineering. The hiring managers for each of those departments were on hand to talk with potential applicants, answer questions and collect resumes. Applicants were also encouraged to bring items they had built at home as “show and tell” pieces to show their skills set. “The typical people that we hire here have a real passion for aviation and it even carries on to their night life,” said Trish Mills, vice president of Shared Services, “It’s a really particular group.”
Mills started working for the company in 1980 before it was Scaled.
“I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity with the economy the way it is,” she said. “You read all the time about companies shutting down or laying off hundreds of people. In this type of economy Scaled is hiring, we’re growing. I think that tells an amazing story about the type of company we are and the future of where we’re going with this from space tourism to commercial to the government side – we do it all,” said Mills.
According to Ben Diachun, vice president of Engineering, the company plans to grow 20 percent over the next year. Elliot Seguin is a project engineer and flight test engineer at Scaled. He decided that he wanted to work for the company as a college student with a family of engineers. At the time, the company had just finished Tier One and was “slammed” with publicity. The world was watching and they wanted to play with us.” Seguin sent in his resume 14 times over the course of two years and never heard back.
Seguin said that looking back, it was a testimony to how many people wanted to be a part of the company. His advice to those who are now where he was is “get out there and design, build and break stuff. Your engineering education will teach you how to design something, at scaled, that’s a third of the process, then you need to make it into a real part. And then you need make sure that it will survive in the environment it was designed for because that test is going to be your responsibility too.”
According to Seguin, the company looks for people that ask questions, are inherently curious and well rounded in their fields. He added, “The reason I work here is because I want to be around the guys that are the best in the world at what I’m psyched about which is designing building and flight testing airplanes.”
During the event, Scaled also hosted a video chat with the now-retired founder of the company, Burt Rutan.
According to Rutan, though he didn’t realize it until he retired, one of his greatest accomplishments is having given jobs to 400 employees with “better healthcare than Lockheed.” He added, “It warms my heart to know that Scaled is hiring despite the recession.”
Meanwhile, Scaled pilot Mark “Forger” Stucky, gave a presentation in the East Kern Airport District boardroom on his experience flying SpaceShipTwo.
Further down the ramp, well over 30 Mooney’s from the Vintage Mooney Association were displayed. The aircraft were flown in from California, Arizona and Nevada. They were originally scheduled to fly out for the March Plane Crazy Saturday, but due to inclement weather were not able to attend.
Plane Crazy Saturday also hosted the Los Angeles FIRST Tech Challenge “Mojave Spaceport Scrimmage” robotics competition, with a number of junior and senior high school teams from Tehachapi, Victorville, Lancaster and Los Angeles in attendance to compete in a hangar on the flightline.
FIRST is an acronym for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”
Students who participate in FIRST learn how to translate math and science concepts into real-world technology. “When we actually got a robot running and it actually took off … that was the most memorable moment,” said robotics team member at Eastside high school, Justin Edmonds.
Plane Crazy Saturday is a monthly event at the Mojave Air and Space Port, hosted by the Mojave Transportation Museum. The event has been running for more than three years now and this was by far the biggest one yet.
Mojave Transportation Museum board member and author of A Mojave Scrapbook, Alan Radecki, said, “This was the craziest Plane Crazy ever. I can’t remember seeing this many people at the Mojave Airport since the SpaceShipOne launches.”