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Tommie Boys Become Certified Technicians

By Vida Volkert

LAKELAND - After four months of rigorous training at the Tribally owned Micco Aircraft Company (MAC), Marty and Shamy Tommie have become the first Tribal members to become certified aircraft technicians by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Since federal regulations require that aircraft technicians are capable to produce or manufacture suitable and durable airplane materials, they are also required to hold a certificate assuring their capability.

"The certificate is given only after a sample of their work is tested by experts," said Ray Howell, MAC's quality assurance supervisor, adding that the experts X-ray the materials to make sure there are no impurities or cracks.

Marty and Shamy, brothers who were born and raised in Fort Pierce by their mother Mimie Tommie, began working for MAC in early January. Surprisingly, prior to applying for the job, neither of the brothers had any experience in the aircraft business.

After graduating from West Wood High School, Shamy, 41, has always been involved in the auto repair business, working as a self-employed mechanic. Marty, 30, also worked as a self-employed mechanic until he moved in early 1998 to equipment operator for the Landscaping Department of the Seminole Tribe.

"We hired them because they were very good with their hands and had talent that could be used in these areas," said F. De Witt Beckett, President of MAC, adding that both could also read blue prints.

Beckett said Marty was trained to weld aircraft parts while Shamy was trained to do the layout that creates the parts. As such, both had to work with chemicals, mixing and molding the materials used in the manufacture of aircraft parts.

Both brothers were eager to learn and have proudly succeeded in their new roles. One of the reasons for their success is their determination.

"They both have super work ethics," said Howell, who has been 35 years in the aircraft business working with Piper Aircraft Company before coming to MAC. "They (Tommies) come early, they work hard, they are always looking over your shoulder to learn and they put the company over any personal commitment."

After four months of training, samples of Marty and Shamy's work were sent for evaluation to the Fort Lauderdale lab. Two weeks after, the good news approving their work arrived back in Fort Pierce.

Now, after the evaluation, Marty has become a certified aircraft welder and Shamy has become a certified fiber glass layout specialist Howell said. The certifications, which are valid for one year each, give the two brothers permission to work in the airport and to work directly with the airplanes. There are about 40 technicians working at MAC and although there have been some Native Americans already working in this capacity, Marty and Shamy are the first Seminoles to explore this field.

"This is something I have never done before and it is a challenge," said Shamy adding he would like to stay in the business.

Marty also shared his excitement at earning the certificate.

"I like this job because I have something to do during the day while making what I like to make the most," he laughed. "Money."

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