Bill Plucker | A&P Graduate

I began my training at Spartan in the summer of 1974 just after I graduated from High School in South Dakota.  I was sure I was ready to leave the farm …but not sure I was ready to live alone in Tulsa with full time school and a full time job at the International Airport.  But the effort of the school administration seemed to make the housing process go a little smoother than if I had tried to manage it myself.  The classes were great; they taught me everything I wanted to know about aviation plus a whole lot more!  The instructors were relaxed and patient with their students.

Upon graduation and receiving that spanky new A&P ticket, I went back to South Dakota to take the summer off and get my private pilots license.  My Dad thought it was about time for me to get a real job so he showed me an ad in the Wall Street Journal for A&Ps to come work at Cessna Aircraft Company in Wichita Kansas.  I made an appointment to be interviewed, drove to Wichita and secured employment with Cessna after a 20 minute interview.  The interviewer was well aware of Spartans reputation for turning out well trained licensed A&Ps, the fact that I had no previous experience was not a factor to him.  So in the fall of 1978 I began my career with Cessna as a sheet metal mechanic in the experimental department working on the prototype Citation model 550.  That sheet metal training I received at Spartan came into play the very first day!  We hand built our prototype aircraft from engineering blueprints and a little mid-west logic.  I stayed in experimental for 8 years working my way up to the highest hourly position available on certification programs such as the 550, S550, 551 Linebacker, T-47 and the Citation 650.  In 1985 I moved into the Customer Service group and was transferred to Ohio where I was a Field Service Engineer for the next 8 years.  I loved this job.  There was travel, both domestic and international, a chance to meet lots of people in aviation, working on and showing our customers how to maintain their Citations and an opportunity to be the guy people wanted to call when there was an issue that needed a quick resolution.  In the early 90s I started hearing about a new aircraft Cessna was designing back in Wichita that was supposed to be faster than any other non-military aircraft of the time.  This aircraft was the model 750 Citation X (ten).  I wanted to be a part of that program so I accepted a position as the Customer Service Liaison to the 750 Engineering Project.  Since this aircraft was not your typical Citation, which was not thought of as a rocket ship…there were going to be radical departures from accepted design, manufacturing and field support practices of the day.  I wanted to both encourage engineering to design the aircraft for easy field maintenance and also design a different manor in which the aircraft was supported in the field.  When this aircraft was first delivered to customers, a group of people known as ‘Team Ten’ had already visited with the customer and demonstrated how the aircraft could be maintained with the use of new technology laptop computers and 24×7 technical support.  After 6 years with that group and a 3 week trip around the world with the Citation X, I moved again.  I spent several years as the team leader of a group called Customer Support New Product Development.  This group was charged with insuring that all new development programs have the voice of the customer involved in design decisions.  My next stop was Engineering Advanced Design where I learned to use the Six Sigma process to quantify maintainability to the point where we can identify system designs and components that require less field maintenance.  I am now working on Cessna’s latest announced project, the Citation 850 Columbus.  It will be another outstanding performer in a long line of great corporate aircraft.

This 30+ year career with Cessna was due in no small part to my training from Spartan.  The name carries weight in the aviation and other industries from coast to coast.  Going to Spartan was absolutely the best decision I could have made for my technical training.

Bill Plucker
Sr. Design Engineer, Black Belt
Advanced Technology, 850 Group
Cessna Aircraft Company