Avionics News March 2017 - 54
L U E B K E
of West Star Aviation
ALONG WITH HIS
JIM SWEHLA BUILT WEST
STAR AVIATION FROM ONE
P A T R I C I A
im Swehla grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa and as much as
he appreciates what he calls his "humble beginnings," his
passion was not for cows but for airplanes.
"I knew I didn't want to be a farmer," he said. "I always
had an interest in aviation, so when I graduated from high school,
I continued to a community college and got my A&P license." He
then took a job at Capital Aviation in Springfield, Illinois, working
on business airplanes in engine and airframe maintenance.
The business side of his work also interested him. After two
years, he went to the University of Illinois and majored in business
management. Armed with a bachelor's degree, Swehla said, "I
worked my way through the ranks at Capital Aviation." The
company was purchased by Garrett Aviation whose focus was on
engines, and it continued to provide customers with diverse services
including paint, avionics upgrades and more.
Eventually, Swehla managed sales, customer support, contracts,
estimating, interior design and "virtually all the administrative
components of the business." Swehla said he "gained a lot of
knowledge by managing a diverse group of departments. Combined
with my technical background, it was an exciting career path.
I knew a lot about the business, and I enjoyed working with
customers and employees."
He enjoyed his work so much at Capital Aviation, which later
was Garrett Aviation (and currently known as StandardAero), that