Gene Kropfelder has been working on, and teaching the mechanics of, aircraft for half a century.
It began when he became an aviation mechanic in the Marine Corps in 1968 and continued in a career with several commercial airlines as well as with Airborne and ATI in Wilmington.
He then chose to pass his knowledge on and became an instructor for ATI and for the past seven years as an aviation maintenance instructor in the adult workforce development program at Laurel Oaks Career Campus.
That kind of knowledge and dedication doesn’t go unnoticed — on Feb. 5, Jason Forshey of the FAA came to Laurel Oaks to present the Charles Taylor Master Mechanic Award to Kropfelder.
The ho0nor is a lifetime achievement award presented to those with 50 years of distinguished service, and is named for the Wright Brothers’ mechanic.
Kropfelder said his work took him places.
“I’ve had the chance to see the world,” he said. “I walked the Great Wall of China and saw nearly every country. How can you beat a career like that?”
He knows the importance of skill in his career.
“If I would put my wife and children on the aircraft I just worked on, I knew that I did my job.”
And that’s the attitude and level of skill he impresses on his students.