Insights of Experience: Jeff Galbraith
Posted on Nov 18, 2014
As we celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we continuously reflect on the incredible employees who have helped us reach this milestone. This fall, we’re excited to publish a series of interviews and photos with some of our most experienced staff members. We’ve asked these Pentastar employees about their careers at Pentastar and how the business aviation industry has changed during the last several decades. We are titling this series “Insights of Experience.” Look for our ads featured in Aviation International News and visit the Flight Plan blog to read more of the interviews.
Director of Maintenance Control
30 Years at Pentastar Aviation
His advice to someone pursuing a career in business aviation: “Never stop learning.”
In a department like Maintenance Control, experience is key, and few Pntastar Aviation employees have more experience thank Jeff Galbraith. With a sixth sense for anticipating customer needs, Jeff has spent the last 30 years making sure DOM’s (and their aircraft) return home happy. Below, you can read about Jeff and his career at Pentastar Aviation in his own words:
I was going down the automotive path and my father said, “what about aviation?” I really didn’t even think about it, but I said, “that would be interesting” and the next thing you know I’m in A&P school at Detroit City Airport. I ended up getting my license in two years.
My father inspired me and gave me the work ethic I have now.
When I first came into Pentastar, I was fresh out of A&P school, never worked on an airplane. I was amazed, looking at these large Gulfstream jets, thinking to myself, I can’t believe they’re going to let me work on this! It was pretty cool. It’s really pretty exciting when you’re first starting out.
They hired me part time and 10 months later, they put me on full time and here I am, still here. In aviation, 30 years at one place is pretty amazing these days. It just doesn’t happen. There’s quite a few of us here. It’s pretty impressive here. Hair color changes, but it’s still the same guys.
The guys that are here, they love aviation.
I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished – learning the job, moving up within the company and providing good customer service at every point along the way.
Having a good mentor is paramount to learning things the correct way. When I first started at Pentastar, I had several mentors. Some of them are no longer with us, but some of them still work here and I still look up to those same people.
Mike Baker is definitely somebody I look up to. He’s a wealth of knowledge.
One of the key things that I’ve learned is that communication is huge as far as customers go. Anticipating the needs of a customer – having been through all of these different scenarios, different positions – I put myself in their shoes and I say, “What would I want? What would I be asking for?” And I try to provide that before they have to ask for it. I think that goes a long way.
The thing at Pentastar that’s stayed the same is the good quality people that have been here the whole time. A few have come and gone in different positions, but they always have the same drive to be the best at what we do.
It’s a smaller industry than you think. Small, but mighty. It’s amazing how you can be anywhere in the world and you bump into someone that you know in aviation.
In aviation, there’s only one avenue for safety. It has to be the number one priority. There’s just one way to do things in aviation and that’s per the book.
The safety culture here is great. It’s right at the forefront of everything we do here.
You never stop learning. I don’t care how long you’re in aviation, it changes so fast.
It never gets old for me watching airplanes take off or at an airshow. It’s just cool. After flying with the airplane on some of these long trips around the world, they’re just amazing machines. I’ve really come to respect the technology. The keep making them fly faster and longer. Technology grows by leaps and bounds every year.
There’s a sense of pride when you work on an airplane for three or four weeks, finish it up, put it together and when it’s time for the test flight or departure, it’s nice to see it fly away and can report later that there’s no discrepancies.
We reconfigured a Gulfstream to fly around the Pacific Rim and take air samples at different points. From 65 degrees N latitude, which is like Fairbanks, Alaska all the way down south of New Zealand. We hit several countries: Australia, New Zealand, a lot of different stops along the way. It was a really, really interesting trip. I think it was the most interesting thing I’ve done here at Pentastar.
I’m an avid outdoorsman. I enjoy anything outdoors: hunting, fishing, shooting sports.
We rented a charter boat out of Grand Marais up in the UP [Upper Peninsula of Michigan]. It was supposed to be a four or five hour evening fishing charter. We go 22 miles out in Lake Superior and we’re just about ready to put the rods down and start trolling around for these big lake trout out on this sunken reef. All of the sudden the boat just wouldn’t move. I was with another aviation friend of mine and the first thing we did was start accessing the transmission of the boat. We see that there’s fluid all over it and there’s nothing we can do. Here we are out in Lake Superior, 22 miles off shore and the fish finder is telling us we’re in 1,100 feet of water and they were predicting a storm coming later that evening. All I could remember thinking was, Your ship-to-shore radio better work or I’m throwing him over the boat! He got ahold of the Coast Guard and about two hours later, a Coast Guard crew with a towboat came and pulled us all the way in at nine knots. I was so happy to see that boat show up because I couldn’t picture staying out on that lake all night with storms coming. Later that evening, lightning from that storm started a big forest fire. That was probably my most exciting adventure in the outdoors.