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My Other Life: Shea McCarthy, Airplane De-icer

by NAILS Staff | April 17, 2019

For Shea McCarthy of Layton, Utah, aviation is a longtime passion that even inspired the name of her home salon: Sky’s the Limit Nails. During the winter, she combines her love for airliners with her nail career, working as a lead de-icer for Integrated Deicing Services (IDS) at Salt Lake City International Airport. Before her de-icing job, McCarthy worked at the airport for 12 years, starting out as a line service technician. “I was responsible for servicing corporate and privately-owned aircraft,” she explains. “This included fueling, towing, parking, lavatory services, de-icing, and several other services. I did that for a few years before becoming a line supervisor, when I usually assigned others those tasks and ran the ramp.”

After her second child was born, McCarthy realized that her income wasn’t enough to afford daycare for her children, so she left that job. A friend referred her to IDS, which offers a flexible and seasonal schedule that allows her to continue to work in aviation without the need for daycare. The job fits in around her nail career too: She works for IDS on weekday nights and weekends and does nails during the day and on days off.

McCarthy finds her job rewarding. “I love knowing that I’m helping keep air travel safe for everyone on the planes we spray, crew and passengers alike,” she says. “Without de-icing, aircraft can lose lift. This results in poor takeoff performance, and perhaps the inability to stay airborne.” She loves operating the de-icing equipment, too. “Our trucks are capable of being driven and operated from the sprayer’s basket,” she says. “It’s an awesome feeling looking 40 feet below and no one is in the cab of the truck because I’m driving it from up in the air!”

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