Meet Donald Streitenberger Jr: 2015 National Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year

The General Aviation Awards program and the FAA annually recognize deserving aviation professionals for their accomplishments in flight instruction, aviation maintenance, avionics and safety. This year the National Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year works at the top of the food chain, maintaining business jets for the nation’s largest grocer. ARSA congratulates Donald Streitenberger Jr, chief inspector for The Kroger Company and 2015 National AMT of the Year.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Kroger has 2,625 stores spread across 31 states. Because their operation requires the use of business jets, Streitenberger directs fleet inspections and approves work for return to service. Each aircraft in the Kroger business fleet operates an average of 600 hours per year and directly impacts business success. The fleet makes it possible for executives to fly to and from distant events in the same day if needed, saving wasted time on the ground.

Before working for Kroger at Cincinnati Lunken Airport, Streitenberger studied aviation maintenance at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and worked as a lead mechanic for Jet Couriers. He joined the Kroger aviation department as a line mechanic in 1985. Streitenberger is an FAA certified repairman and mechanic with airframe and powerplant ratings and inspection authorization.

He serves his local aviation community through involvement in Ohio Aircraft Technicians Society (OATS), the Cincinnati chapter of the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) and the Lunken Airport Days Aviation Career Fair. Streitenberger is also the recipient of the technician safety award and a number of certificates of appreciation for pro-bono aviation maintenance work.

To learn more about Streitenberger and his aviation experience, ARSA asked him a few questions about his career.

ARSA: How long have you been an AMT?

DS: About 35 years.  I started out working in line service while attending A&P school.  During my second year at Cincinnati State I began my first co-op at Avionics Inc. here at Lunken Airport.  After receiving the Airframe and PowerPlant ratings for my mechanic’s certificate, I worked for an organization called Jet Courier.  Jet Courier moved canceled bank checks across the U.S. which gave me an opportunity to travel and allowed me to develop my technical and mechanical skills performing a wide variety of maintenance items.  I left Jet Courier to work as a line technician for The Kroger Co. and have been there for 30 years and counting.

ARSA: What drew you to aviation maintenance?

DS: Where do I start?  My dad loved airplanes. My whole family would pack up and go to Dayton for all the airshows featuring the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.  The static displays at the Dayton airshow gave us an opportunity to get up close and personal with airplanes. In the early days, the airshow was at the Wright Patterson Air Force base. After the airshow we would visit the Air Force museum (it was still outside back then).

Then as a boy playing knothole baseball, I was the kid in the outfield who couldn’t tell you how many outs there were, but I sure knew what type of aircraft just flew overhead – and I could tell you everything about it!  I must say that although times have changed, still today when my team is in the hangar working and we hear the sound of a radial engine or a military engine sound, we all run to the hangar door and look at each other and laugh at how much we are still like the little kids we all were years ago!

ARSA: What are some of your most memorable career highlights?

DS: It starts with completing all of my exams and receiving my A&P Certificate; this was truly my first big accomplishment. Then I must say it was getting my job with The Kroger Co. as a line mechanic and being promoted to the chief inspector position. Next on my list was passing my IA test and receiving an IA rating. Finally my most memorable highlight was receiving the National 2015 AMT of the Year Award.

ARSA: What is the most rewarding thing about the work you do?

DS: I think it is the respect that I get from my flight crews and the company. When we release an aircraft our flight crews have full confidence in our work that was performed.

ARSA: During the course of your career, have you advanced or impacted the aviation maintenance industry?

DS: I hope so. I think that we as a group tend to forget the value we bring to aviation. I always try to keep up my general appearance while in and around our passengers and try to keep all conversations professional. There are always complaints about the separation of maintenance and flight crew compensation and respect, but we need to show that we deserve respect. To be compensated as a professional, we need to look and act professionally.

ARSA: What are the benefits of being involved in professional aviation organizations in your community?

DS: I started out as a member of the Ohio Aircraft Technician Society and then served as treasurer, vice president and president. We host monthly seminars on topics like wood dope and fabric, borescopes and hangar first aid training.  We all need to understand the importance of education today because we are in a rapidly changing environment. I have always said if just that one seminar saves you a six hour repair on a Friday night it might just be worth it!

ARSA: Do you have any advice for aspiring or new AMTs?

DS: Education, education, education.  Get involved with your local AMT groups or form a group. Read all the printed literature. Like my father said, “you will only get out of it what you put into it.” Get your NCATT ratings and learn about electrical theory.  Almost everything on an airplane today has a computer plugged into it – from flight controls to fuel systems.

Once again, ARSA congratulates Donald Streitenberger Jr. and thanks him for sharing his perspective and insight. If you know someone worthy of a 2016 General Aviation Award, submit your nomination before midnight EST on Sept. 30.

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