The rotary wing maintenance inspector Celso Fleres is 44 years old and, this February, completes 12 years of work at the Helisul base in Brasília</h4 > The dream of wearing the elegant and imposing uniform of the Air Force, a la Lieutenant Maverick (Tom Cruise’s character in Top Gun – Ases Indomáveis), and the taste for bicycles and cars since adolescence were starting points for the professional career of the Brazilian Celso Fleres. At Helisul, he works as a rotary wing maintenance inspector, a role he performs at the Brasília/DF base.
Fleres was born and raised in the satellite city of Ceilândia, which is 35 kilometers from the federal capital. His parents separated when he was only six months old and, since then, along with his older brothers Ana Paula and Carlos, he has been raised on the outskirts only by his mother. Dona Maria took care of everything by herself.
“My mother, coming from Piauí, had to work two jobs. In the morning as a housekeeper and at night in a hospital as a cleaning assistant. She kept us that way for a long time. And we were on our own. One taking care of the other”, recalls the maintenance inspector.
For working so hard to support the whole class, the mother ended up not participating in several moments of Fleres’ life. Even a simple meeting at school was difficult to be at. And then the way, like Dona Maria herself, was to fend for yourself and learn by living. So it was, until he started his first contacts with the skills that led him to the world of aviation.
“I hardly saw my mother, I missed her. I declared myself independent. Since I was a child on the periphery at the time, I was very fond of bicycles. At the age of 15, I started sanding a bicycle frame in a workshop for the owner to paint. Over time I learned bicycle maintenance. I’ve already started putting my hand in the grease. And I always liked tinkering with tools,” he says.
At 18, Fleres joined the barracks, where he chose to serve in the Air Force. “I thought the uniform was beautiful and I liked aviation. It was the dream of putting on the uniform. It was a very good experience. About a year into the recruit.”
Passionate about cars, the inspector wanted to work in the garage, but was placed in the role of supporting vehicles arriving at the Brasília air base, driving a yellow Kombi, which had the phrase Follow Me on the back. It took four years checking whether there were animals on the runway or aircraft parts lost on the ground, running after fighter jet parachutes to deliver to mechanics or serving as a “scout” for planes, “illuminating” their paths on the runway.
With a life in the barracks no longer so satisfactory, Fleres decided to spread wings and got a job as a runway assistant at an air taxi company. But he liked to get his hands dirty, or rather, the “machines”. And who held Fleres?
“He washed planes and helicopters. He liked it because he had direct contact. He polished, waxed, cleaned inside. And then the taste for aviation increased”, he says. It was seven years in the company. Halfway through this journey, the professional began studying at an aviation school, to perfect himself in his activities. When he was close to completing the course, after three years, he left the company.
For a period of two years, Fleres worked as an installer at a telephone company, until the opportunity arose to be hired by Helisul. “When Helisul signed a certain contract, they only had one mechanic, and he recommended me to go there. When I arrived at the hangar, the colleague who invited me already told me to get soapy water to wash the helicopters.”
Fleres took on the role of maintenance assistant, at the time taking care of 8 aircraft. And from then on, he started working for Helisul, traveling all over Brazil on missions for the operator and creating remarkable memories.
“Seeing your duty done is a rewarding feeling. Being able to help someone is priceless. These things mark, landslide mission, flood. I once went on a flood rescue mission and the pilot said that about 60 people were rescued in one day”, reveals Fleres.
For him, a rescue that he considers unforgettable was that of a child of approximately five who was drowning in a swimming pool, in Brasília. “This is about eight years old. We don’t forget.”
Love for speed
Fleres is a lover of not only tinkering with car engines and structures, but the speed they can provide on dry land. He loves participating in competitions, like karts and turbo cars and everything that can be imagined within this universe, as the inspector himself tells. “If there’s gas and I turn it on, I’m there for the noise and smoke,” he says. He’s right that he’s not a big winner. According to him, “win one and lose six”. What really counts is the fun.
The inspector is also into “old cars,” as he calls them. He goes back and forth around Brasilia in his Chevett with a turbocharged engine. As he claims, it is his “means of spending money”.
Family and Legacy
Currently, Fleres lives in Guará, a satellite city of Brasília that is 15 kilometers from Ceilândia, where Dona Maria and his sister’s family still live. The brother also got married and lives in Riacho Fundo II.
Inspector Fleres is single and is the father of João Vitor, 23 years old. The boy seems to be a big fan of his father, even the same career he chose to follow. “I want to be like you,” he said, when asked what profession he would like to have.
And so it is fulfilled. About ten months ago, João Vitor moved to Curitiba, to work as a maintenance assistant at Helisul, a company that his father saw grow rapidly during the period in which he works and of which he is proud. “A very quick climb. It is gratifying to be a part of it.”