Aug. 25--John Butler was practically born with a wrench in hand. The Missouri native has been interested in airplanes and what makes them work ever since he can remember.
"My father started with Trans World Airlines (TWA) in 1938 so I grew up with it," he said. "I started out as a mechanic in the Air Force. When I got out in 1965, I went to work for TWA."
He can still vividly remember those early days in the airline industry, when commercial flights were still relatively a new.
"It was fun back in those days. It used to be there were very few people who flew. So one of the perks of working for the airline was -- if they had an open hole -- you were able to go somewhere. Of course, in 1978 deregulation came into play and they did away with that," he said.
Butler eventually moved over to the supervisory side, taking on various management jobs in Miami, one of which allowed him to travel extensively inspecting aircraft.
"When I left TWA and was at International Air Leases in Miami, I went all over the world," he said. "When I started...I could go to England for three days, then get a call to go to Turkey and then to Spain. But then it would be a month or two months before I got home."
So Butler, a family man, decided to find something that would allow him to spend more time at home. After establishing a base in Orlando, he wound up connecting with Stanbaugh Aviation in Brunswick.
"I came here in 2008. I was working for a company called Boston Maine/Pan Am. It was just before Pan Am met its demise and I was bringing my Pan Am airplanes to Brunswick. So after it went under, I talked to Scott (Stambaugh) and they were needing someone," he said.
Butler joined the business, which is owned by brothers Mark Stambaugh and Scott Stambaugh, and has never looked back.
"Stambaugh Aviation has been a complete blast to work for. It's easy for me now. And at the age I am now and the stage I'm at, I could just walk away, but I don't want to because I am having too much fun," he said.
"These past six years in this industry have been the most enjoyable and interesting for me due both to the brothers and also the customers. Some of them are interesting -- John Travolta, Donald Trump."
Butler serves as the chief inspector and it was here where he received notice of a crowning gem to his 50 year-plus career in aviation. He was recently selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to receive the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award.
The honor, which is named after the mechanic for Wilbur and Orville Wright, acknowledges the lifetime achievements of a person with more than 50 years in the aviation business and more than 35 years with an AMP license.
"I met their criteria. I'm 53 years into the industry and got my A&P license in 1969, so that's 45 years. So you have your name submitted to the FAA and they do a background check to make sure the license hasn't been violated and verify your employment. Then everything is sent to Washington," he said. "And about a month ago I got the call that I was selected."
Butler will be honored by the FAA at a ceremony this week, as will wife Barbara, who he says deserves much of the praise.
"I think I'm getting a certificate and a lapel pin. And my wife is getting one too. She's put up with a lot," he said.
"But it's kinda nice. It's made me realize how old I'm getting. It seems like just yesterday I was turning a wrench as a mechanic."
-- Reporter Lindsey Adkison writes about business and other local topics. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 346.
Copyright 2014 - The Brunswick News, Ga.