‘I love working on a brand-new airplane’

As the rollout approached, Boeing workers inside the huge assembly plant continued work on another 787 destined for Air India on Friday.

Boeing employee Michael Hargrove has had a love affair with airplanes his entire life.

Growing up in Goose Creek, he’d often look up in wonder at the string of military C-17s flying overhead, going off to far away places.

When the 787 Dreamliner plant came in, it meant he wouldn’t have to move away to follow his dreams of working at the highest level — a dream that has gone so well that Hargrove, 29, sees Boeing becoming the workplace for generations ahead.

“My son’s fascinated by planes and he’s only 2 years old,” he said.

Boeing executives heaped high praise on their 6,000 local workers Friday saying their efforts helped make the rollout a success.

“They are like a racehorse in the gate,” said Jack Jones, Boeing South Carolina’s vice president and general manager. “They are ready to get this thing out of here.”

Attracting and training a competitive workforce was one of the big selling points to bringing Boeing to the state.

Hargrove received his degree in aircraft maintenance from Trident Technical College after he was laid-off from a job in the automobile manufacturing sector. He now is a fabrication specialist.

Of the current Boeing ranks, about 85 percent are from the local region, and of that, up to 75 percent are from South Carolina.

A Boeing spokesman declined to disclose any salary information about those working the line.

One of those who came from out of state is William Kaminsky, 44, originally from Michigan.

Kaminski, who described his job as a “problem fixer,” worked in the auto industry for a while and saw that it was a stressed future. He then opted to pursue airplane assembly training.

Fifteen years later, he’s settled in Summerville.

“I love working on a brand-new airplane,” he said of the 787. “It’s the new technology.”

He also said he’s seen a positive impact wherever he goes and people bring up the name Boeing.

“You can definitely tell you are appreciated,” he said. “People know what it means to bring jobs to the state.”

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.