Saturday, April 28, 2012

Avery Nofsinger receives illustrious aircraft award

On March 21, the Federal Aviation Administration presented Avery Nofsinger of Columbus with “The Charles Taylor ‘Master Mechanic’ Award.” Nofsinger’s wife Sharon also received “The Charles Taylor ‘Master Mechanic’ Award Spouse Recognition Pin.”

COLUMBUS – When a man’s work coincides with his passion, longevity may be the result.

Avery Nofsinger has been more than 60 years of working on airplanes.

On March 21, the Federal Aviation Administration presented Nofsinger with an award given only to those who spend at least 50 years as an aircraft mechanic.

 “The Charles Taylor ‘Master Mechanic’ Award,” is named for the Wright brothers’ original aircraft mechanic, according to Nofsinger.

The award includes two plaques, and is given for “Fifty Years of Dedicated Service in Aviation Safety.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is part of the Department of Transportation.

“A friend of mine actually put me in for this thing,” Nofsinger said.

The event was held at Wisconsin Aviation in Watertown, where Nofsinger worked from 1992 until 2009.

“They are a fixed-based operator out of Madison,” Nofsinger explained. The business works in the fields of chartering airplanes, training pilots and performing maintenance.

 “I retired a couple of years ago but I am still current as far as aircraft mechanic and inspector,” said Nofsinger. “Wisconsin Aviation gave me a nice party.”

Nofsinger’s wife, Sharon, also received a keepsake at the event.

“They decided they wanted to recognize the wife,” she said. Sharon received the “Charles Taylor ‘Master Mechanic’ Award Spouse Recognition Pin.”

Avery’s award covers both civilian and military service.

Nofsinger originally got into aircraft mechanics when he followed his five older brothers into the military.

“I selected to avoid the draft by going into the Air Force,” he said. “In 1952 I joined the Air Force and went through aircraft mechanic and power plant school.”

His love of airplanes developed from there. He had a farming background and had always worked on mechanics there, and naturally developed an interest in planes.

Nofsinger has 35-and-a-half years in the military, extending through 1992, including time in both the Air Force and Wisconsin Air National Guard.

His military experience took him to Alaska and southern Japan.

“I was a member of the 68th Fighter Interceptor Squadron after the Korean War ended,” he said. He worked on planes bound for Vietnam as early as 1953, changing the markings on the planes from American to French.

Nofsinger finished his time in the Air Force in Las Vegas.

Later he fixed airplanes for the Wisconsin Air National Guard. Speaking of the time prior to Desert Storm, he said, “We took old A-10s to Germany and brought back newer airplanes.”

He also worked for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources as a mechanic and pilot.

Nofsinger obtained his commercial pilot’s license in 1978, and has held a private pilot’s license since 1957.

But he always thought of himself as more of a mechanic than a pilot.

“To work on the airplane and see it fly afterward was really a thrill,” he said. “The thrill of it is to see the airplane fly after having worked on it.”

“Very few people can attain that many years,” Sharon said.

“He could fix anything that we had or the neighbors had, and it would run,” she added.

Avery has lived in Columbus since 1968. He and Sharon were married in 1973.

They actually met when she was a civilian secretary at Wisconsin Air National Guard – where she spent more than 36 years herself.

“Most people don’t keep jobs that long,” she said.

Avery is still active in his field, holding an aircraft and power plant mechanic certificate and inspection authorization certificate.

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