Career Maintenance Tech Earns NBAA Honors For Professionalism


Bruce Gullingsrud represents a legion of unsung heroes in aviation—he’s a career maintenance technician. His life’s work recently received recognition from the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), which awarded Gullingsrud one of nine Dr. Tony Kern Professionalism in Aviation Awards for 2023.

“I’m sneaking up on a half century of doing this kind of work,” Gullingsrud told NBAA, further confessing he holds a “love of all things mechanical and the environment where—50 years later—you’re still learning something every day. I’ve always looked forward to what’s next.”

As the 27-year director of maintenance for Mente LLC, Gullingsrud looks after two Gulfstream business jets, two turbine-powered helicopters and a pair of single-engine turboprops on floats. He heads up a team of eight technicians to cover the range of tasks involved in keeping such a diverse fleet safe and on schedule. It’s been a long journey since earning his Airframe & Powerplant technician’s certificate from South Seattle Community College in 1977.

As a leader, he’s learned some important lessons. “Good or bad,” he said, “let members of the team make decisions so they can learn from them. But understand: no decision should ever involve cutting corners, especially when maintaining an aircraft.” And looking back through the years as he approaches the twilight of his career, he told NBAA that the most important thing he’s learned is accountability: “Be the first to raise your hand when you make a mistake. If you damage the aircraft while troubleshooting a problem, raise your hand and tell us about it immediately so the entire team can learn from—and not repeat it.”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.