Martin Stefanac | Spartan College Graduate

I decided to go to Spartan while in high school in Detroit. My decision was based on information from my uncle Frank Vlasic who was an aeronautical engineer working for the department of defense at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio. Uncle frank owned a Piper Tri-Pacer and was heavy into aviation and recommended Spartan over Embry Riddle.

Upon arriving at Spartan I was lodged in the school barracks and made friends immediately. Billy Benson from Pleasanton, Texas and Erving Bradley from rural Indiana were my roomies and we rented an apartment at 6924 E. Pine street. We took classes together and trained on the BT-13s and B-24 that the school had gotten from the Air Force. I also took the training on jet engine overhaul and maintenance. Some other classmates included a few Icelanders including Stefan Jonsson who now works for Iceland Air. We are still in touch and my daughter and her husband visited him and his wife in Reykjavik where he took them on a flight around the local area in his light plane.

While at Spartan I worked in the print shop and took pictures for the school newspaper and took class pictures of the graduating classes. Also, during theĀ fall of 1959 Spartan students aided in sandbagging to prevent flooding of Tulsa. I have a lot of good memories of Spartan and the teachers there who were very good and worked with us even after classes were out for the day. I remember helping one of the teachers repair a plane belonging to one of the students who tore the landing gear off the plane while landing. He came in so close to the end of the runway that he hooked the landing gear on the fence surrounding the airport. Then we recovered a Luscomb fuselage with another teacher off campus.

After graduation I went to work for Zantop Air Transport at Detroit Metropolitan Airport where I worked on C-46s and C-47s and C-54s. Zantop flew log-air contracts for the military. I also got to work on a P-51 Mustang which was brought in for service after which the pilot insisted the mechanic who worked on the plane accompany him on a test flight. Guess who was the mechanic who had worked on that plane? Well, I can tell you it was quite a test flight. Anyway, after that I joined the Air Force and worked on the flight simulator for the B-52. I have since worked for Chrysler Corp., General Dynamics and Boeing. I have never forgotten my experience and training at Spartan and believe my life has benefited greatly because of the school and it’s staff.

Fondly remembering,

Martin Stefanac
Glenwood, IA