SGTC alumni, Gulfstream official speaker at Griffin Bell Convocation

Published 12:45 pm Monday, April 3, 2017

AMERICUS — Dan Linginfelter, Senior Airworthiness Inspector for Gulfstream Aerospace and a 1979 aviation maintenance technology graduate from South Georgia Tech, shared some of the wisdom and life lessons that he gained from his nearly 40 years in the aviation maintenance industry in front of a capacity crowd at the South Georgia Technical College (SGTC) Griffin B. Bell Convocation recently in the John M. Pope Industrial Technology Center on the SGTC campus.
John Watford, Ed.D., president of SGTC, welcomed visitors and special guests to the event and then recognized several groups of outstanding students who had competed for state and national recognition in their respective programs. He also introduced Griffin B. Bell III, lawyer and grandson of former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell who shared insight about his grandfather and the Bell family’s relationship with SGTC.
“My grandfather always spoke very highly of South Georgia Technical College,” said Griffin Bell, who brought his daughter, Margaret, with him to the event. “One of the lessons that I learned from my grandfather, was the importance of time. He was very generous with his time, but he also valued it and wanted to make sure that we knew the value of time. If I can leave you with one thought, it would be to ‘value or use’ your time wisely here at South Georgia Technical College. Use your time here to secure an education that will help you become a success in your chosen field,” said Bell.
Following those comments, Su Ann Bird, executive director of the SGTC Foundation, introduced Dan Linginfelter as the guest speaker. Linginfelter was named as the Distinguished Alumnus of the Year for the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) by Commissioner Gretchen Corbin in 2016, and was spotlighted by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal for his contributions to technical education and the aviation industry at a special “Taste of TCSG” event in Atlanta in 2016.
“I graduated from South Georgia Tech in 1979, with my aviation maintenance diploma and my A & P (airframe and powerplant) license and I have been gainfully employed ever since,” said Linginfelter as he began his talk to the hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members who attended the convocation. “Every dollar that I have made over the past 38 years can be traced back to what I learned at South Georgia Tech.”
Linginfelter paid tribute to two special individuals who had been at South Georgia Tech when he was a student in 1977 through 1979.
“Dean of Students Harold Moore and his family lived right down the hall from me in the dorms when I was a student. I had the upmost respect for him and his family and I am a better person today because of his influence on my life while I was here.”
Linginfelter also talked about his former aviation maintenance instructor, Frank Gassett of Oglethorpe. Linginfelter credited Gassett for instilling in him a passion for aviation maintenance and for inspiring him to continue in this field.
Moore and his wife JoAnn, and Gassett and his wife Nyoka were at the convocation to reconnect with the former student and graduate.
“I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think that when Frank Gassett looked at me and the other aviation maintenance students that he was really looking for three things,” explained Linginfelter. “First of all, he wanted to see passion. He wanted us to be passionate about what we were doing. Second and probably most important, he wanted to see integrity. In this business, you have to have integrity. A lot of times as an aviation mechanic, you are working by yourself so you have to have integrity to do the job right, the first time, or people could die. And third he was looking for intelligence. In my case, it might have been at least just a little bit of intelligence,” laughed Linginfelter. “I was at best an average student, but if you have integrity, passion, and even a little intelligence you can do well.”
After graduation, Linginfelter was hired by Delta and began a career that spanned over 32 years before he retired as the Atlanta Station Manager, International. He returned to work after that first retirement for Certified Aviation Services, a leading provider of maintenance repair operations (MRO) services for fleet operators around the world. He retired from there and soon began his “second retirement” job as a Senior Airworthiness Inspector for Gulfstream Aerospace.
“I wish I could tell you that I always wanted to be an aviation mechanic and had always wanted to come to South Georgia Tech, but it didn’t happen that way,” said Linginfelter. “I might have been like a lot of you in the room today. I didn’t really like school. I had to be able to see how and why things worked. I wanted to touch and feel what I studied. I needed to understand why what I was studying was important. I didn’t do well with just theory.”
Linginfelter said when came to South Georgia Tech in 1977, this part of Georgia was alive. Jimmy Carter from Plains had just been elected President of the United States and Judge Bell from Americus, had been named as the U.S. Attorney General for Carter. “When I came here I felt like anything was possible,” said Linginfelter, “and now almost 40 years later, I see just how right I was.”
Linginfelter encouraged the students to take advantage of the wonderful educational opportunities available at SGTC.
“What you have here is an excellent college with great facilities and equipment but most important, you have the people who work here who love what they are doing and who want to help you succeed. Take advantage of those opportunities.”
Linginfelter had followed the advice he shared with students and used his education from SGTC to make a tremendous impact in the aviation maintenance industry. He also made a professional and personal life, he could be proud of.
“To work your whole life and then be recognized for that is a dream come true,” said Linginfelter, who added that being invited back to speak at the Griffin B. Bell Convocation made him feel like he was on top of the world.”
After Dan’s talk, his brother, Hank and his wife Sandy were invited to the stage where they revealed that their family had endowed a scholarship for aviation maintenance students in Dan’s honor.
“It gives Sandy and me much pleasure to announce today that we have made a donation to the South Georgia Technical College Foundation for the Dan Linginfelter Aviation Maintenance Scholarship, to be used to help other aviation maintenance students attend college here,” said Hank Linginfelter.  SGTC President Watford thanked Hank and Sandy Linginfelter for their gift of education.
The Griffin B. Bell convocation was made possible by a donation from the late Judge Griffin Bell in an effort to bring outstanding individuals with expertise in business, science, or technology to the SGTC campus to encourage and inspire young people.