To Whom It May Concern:,
Hello my name is Zachary Thompson. I am the shop foreman for Trego/Dugan Aviation Inc. I am a proud graduate from Spartan. I was an AMT student in your airframe and powerplant course. I graduated with highest honors in Dec. of 1999. My 18 months in Tulsa at Spartan were some of the most memorable in my life.
I am from a small town called Hershey. It is located right in the middle of Nebraska. It has a population of about 450. There is a small company on the highway north of town called Hershey Flying service. They rebuild and repair Schweitzer AG-Cats. Not the most sophisticated air craft around today, but enough to spark my interest in aviation. My mother always tells people that as a child I never played with cars or trucks, only airplanes. I have a toy tractor that was a Christmas present when I was 6. It still looks new today, because I couldn’t have cared less about it. I like airplanes. Lord only knows how many toy planes I have had over the years. As a young boy I use to glue my face to the car window every trip to town as we drove past the flying service to try and see an airplane. I immersed my self in anything that had to do with aviation. My room was covered in model planes, and later on remote control aircraft.
At the ripe old age of 15 I started my career as an aircraft mechanic. I started out as a shop hand at Hershey Flying Service. It was then and there that I knew what I wanted to do with my life. I was active in high school sports and extracurricular activates, but every day after school or practice I would go to work at the Flying service. It was a small family owned company. Pete and Floyd Rouche two brothers started a crop dusting company in the sixties. It has remained a small company to this day, but it is just about the only place in the world to take an AG-Cat.
My senior year of school I began looking around for tec. Schools. Colorado Aero-tec was a lot closer to home than Tulsa. The summer before I graduated my mom planned a big road trip for my twin brother and I. We visited three different A&P schools for me, and my brother visited several colleges he was interested in. Spartan was the last school on our trip. We got to the school early in the morning and our guide took us by the south campus at the airport. I had seen what the other schools were like, but when I walked through the south doors of that long hanger and the sun was in the windows shining on to two long rows of aircraft that seemed to stretch as far as I could see. I knew where I was going!
I made many friends and met a lot of new people, from more countries than I can remember. There were a large number of Icelandic students when I went to school in 98 and 1999. I have blonde hair and blue eyes so the most of the students, and instructors thought I was Icelandic. I was surprised how easy it was to transition from high school to college life. The class schedule and hours were a lot like school. It was every day and well structured like high school.
While in school I was able to get a job right across the street. At a company called IBA or International Business Aircraft Inc. It was great to be working at a repair station again. Doing what I loved and doing it while I was going to school definitely helped a lot.
What I did after school is probably what you are most interested in. How did Spartan benefit me? I can’t even begin to count the ways. I had several job offers before I graduated school thanks to Spartan. One was in Milwaukee, and another at TWA in Kansas City. I choose to take a third option back in Nebraska. Great Lakes Airlines hired me for the maintenance base in Grand Island Nebraska. I started there in Jan. of 2000. It was a fast paced heavy maintenance base where I definitely hit the ground running. We serviced Beech 1900D models doing every thing from structural inspections to gate calls. It was a good place to start out at. After 9/11 the airline industry was definitely an unstable environment to be working in. There were changes and cutbacks all over the industry. It was at that time that I decided to look around for a more stable environment.
I applied and was hired at Duncan Aviation in Lincoln Nebraska. I had no jet experience and only about 20 months of real world experience. I know it was the fact that I had gone to a reputable school like Spartan that helped me get the job at one of the best Jet Centers in the world. I started as an airframe mechanic level 2. It didn’t take long at all before I fell in love with the corporate jet market. To walk into work every day and have Citations, Lears, Falcons, Astras, Jet Streams, Hawkers, etc. was a feeling you can only understand if you love Aviation as I do.
Like so many times in life, things repeat them selves. I thought I was done with school when I graduated, but it was back to school again. Flight safety was my new school and I went to a lot of courses. Employers invest a lot of money in educating mechanics. Having a strong background from a reputable school like Spartan goes a long way to a company that values education.
I worked hard on a team that did mostly Citation projects. It was great to learn so much about so many different aircraft. It would take years to learn as much about jets as I did at Duncan in just a few months. After a few months I moved to a mechanic level 3. Some where in there I became a pilot as well as a mechanic. A few months later I got my inspection authorization. Then I was a lead mechanic. Leading projects like phase fives and directing a team of ten to fifteen mechanics working on three different shifts takes a lot of concentration. I spent four years at Duncan and learned a lot.
About three year ago opportunity came knocking. I was leading a project for a company called Trego/Dugan Aviation. They were from North Platte Nebraska . It was just 12 miles from my home town of Hershey. The director of maintenance and I became friends and eventually he offered me a job. They were expanding there jet management and needed someone who knew a lot about Citations. I seemed to fit the bill and was from the area originally
In October of 2005, five short years after school I started out with Trego/Dugan Aviation as a shop foreman. We have two locations one in North Platte and another in Grand Island Nebraska. I am 28 years old and I live in my home town of 450 people. I am married with two young boys who go to the same school I went to. I am a shop foreman and our company manages 5 Citations, 1 Lear 45, and two Caravans. I work on some of the newest, and most advanced corporate jets on the market today. I drive past that little repair station where I started out on my way to work every day. It is comforting to remember where I started, but where I am today and where my career is I owe to Spartan. Day in and day out I get to do what I love.
Attached are some photos of myself and the Jets I manage. Our new shop that is full of projects, and my 6 year old son. His first plane ried was on a 7 million dollar jet. We should all be so lucky.