Maintainer completes a half-century keeping aircraft in the sky at Vance

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Ornelas Jr.
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – On March 12, 1973, a young, long-haired kid started working on the Cessna T-37 Tweet at Vance. The T-37 has long since retired, and as of the first of the month, so has that long-haired kid.

Terry Long, an Enid native and the Amentum branch manager for the T-6A Texan II, retired Sept. 8, after 50 years of maintaining aircraft at Vance.

“I know it’s an old cliché, but 50 years goes by in the blink of an eye,” said Long. “You don’t realize how fast it’s going. Week after week, year after year, decade after decade until you are at the end. 

“There really is no better place to work here in Enid,” said Long. “I’ve hired numerous people throughout my career that have been in the oil field, the welding business, the trucking business and all of them have said that they wished they began their careers at Vance.”

Long enjoyed being a part of Vance and supporting the mission, said Todd Nahnsen, the deputy program manager at Amentum. “He made a difference in many people’s lives while working here. 

“Times are always changing,” said Long. One of the biggest changes for Long was when Vance added the T-1A Jayhawk in the mid-1990s. “Like automobiles, technology gets better and so do our aircraft,” he said.

“Terry is an individual that took care of business and the people around him,” said Nahnsen. He saw many changes in his time at Vance and helped make it the go-to-base for student production, Nahnsen said.

Long hopes the next generation of maintainers begin their careers enjoying each and every day. “It is easy to get wrapped up in everyday tasks. Take a moment to enjoy it,” said Long.

“Fifty years will come and go before you know it.”