Delta aviation maintenance technicians have traded in their tools for sewing machines

The hum of sewing machines can be heard in a room at Delta Air Lines Headquarter. Operating those machines are highly trained, FAA-certified Aviation Maintenance Technicians.

In this world of COVID-19, George Lainhart who has been a welder for Delta for 43 years, has traded in his tools for material and thread. Lainhart and the others are making cloth masks for their fellow Delta employees.

Lainhart has some sewing experience. He learned it from his mom when he was a kid. He was tapped to set up the project. He got the machines, designed the masks, and set up the workflow.

Using fabric from discontinued Delta T-shirts, the crew of sewers is churning out hundreds of masks a day.

Delta mechanic Keith Cook can sew two layers of the mask together in no time.

"This is the beginning of it, I'm just surging them together," said Cook.

"Our record is 1,380 masks in a day. We usually average between 800 to a thousand," said Lainhart.

They've made 20,000 masks in all, and they have tens of thousands more to go.

"They go out all over the whole Delta system. Flight attendants, pilots, gate agents, ramp personnel, and all personnel here at Tech Ops," said Lainhart. 

Delta asked for volunteers, no sewing experience required.  Employee Dean Doster didn't know anything about sewing, but can now make an entire mask from beginning to end.  He said it gives him a sense of accomplishment.

"I've been here for 30 years, and whatever it takes to get the job done that's what we're going to do," said Doster.

Everyone who is part of the mask production said it's an amazing experience knowing they're helping their co-workers stay safe.

"I never knew I was going to affect and help so many people with a sewing machine," said Lainhart.

Some of the masks will be displayed in the Delta Museum because the coronavirus and everything that surrounds it will be a significant part of Delta's history.