By Airman 1st Class Scott Poe
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The sound of an air compressor kicks on as an impact wrench breaks loose rusted bolts that haven’t moved or been touched in decades. Greasy hands grip tools to resurrect a once magnificent car back to its former glory. In a small garage, surrounded by tool boxes, sockets, ratchets, wrenches, hammers and other automotive instruments scattered around, is where Sterling Dixon finds his peace.
Airman 1st Class Sterling Dixon, a 314th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron engine troop, spends most of his days working on C-130H engines. During his off-duty time, however, he prefers to work on cars instead of aircraft.
Dixon was raised in Edgewood, Texas, where his dad taught him how to turn a wrench. He vaguely recalls his first experience working on cars, a ‘69 Chevy Camaro.
“My dad told me that when I was 5, I watched his friend struggle to get the radio out of his ‘69 Camaro,” said Dixon. “They got frustrated with it and left, so I picked up the screwdriver and got it out myself. I guess I went a little overboard, since I dismantled the entire radio after I got it out. It took my dad’s friend forever to get it back together.”
Dixon has been professionally working on cars since he was 15 years old. He worked at a local shop, and by Dixon’s 16th birthday, he was managing 30 mechanics.
Now, Dixon works on his own projects after work in his two-car garage.
“Ninety percent of my time working on projects is actually working on other peoples’ projects,” said Dixon. “A lot of them either want to learn or are skeptical or uncomfortable with working on certain aspects of their projects.”
Dixon said fixing and building cars is a passion and helping fellow Airmen and friends gives him the fulfillment that nothing else can.
“When I work on other people’s projects, it gets me my fix,” said Dixon. “Plus, it helps them out by learning, and it also saves them money by not having to take it somewhere that’s going to charge them.”
Dixon said that he finds solace in his garage. It’s where he can clear his mind and relieve any of his stressors and frustrations.
Dixon said, in his mind he has never fully completed a car, because he knows he can always do more.
“To this day I don’t think I have ever finished a project,” said Dixon. “Even though it’s done in most people’s eyes, I tend to want to do more things to it to make it better and faster.”
Dixon doesn’t simply work on cars to help his friends or to clear his mind. He does it for the feeling he gets when a car that has not been running is resurrected and saved from the junkyard.
The self-proclaimed motor head is currently looking for his next project, which he said will most likely be an older Ford Bronco for his girlfriend.
Not only does Dixon live integrity first, excellence in all we do and service before self at work and with hobbies, but also with his education.
He starts classes in the summer that will go toward his Community College of the Air Force degree as well as a Bachelor of Science degree. His goal is to eventually earn his commission as an officer and lead Airmen.
Named as the 2014 Base Honor Guard member of the year, Sterling Dixon not only bleeds Air Force blue, but 5W-30 too.