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PROFILE After separating from the military,


Cupery vetoed the idea of working on his brother’s farm and instead decided to continue his training as an aircraft mechanic by attending one of nation’s elite aviation technical schools.


“I spoke with the base’s McDonald-Douglas rep and he recommended three schools: Spartan, Embry-Riddle and Northrop Institute,” he explains. “I picked Northrop because it was based in southern California.”


So, when he was 22, he moved to


California and joined a class of 55 students, of which only 12 graduated. Cupery was third in his class despite working his way through school as a bartender for Shakey’s Pizza and a bouncer for Mother’s Tavern where he’d trade his nightly free pizza for beer. After graduating, he decided he missed the changing seasons and moved to Minneapolis to work for Northwest Orient servicing Electra aircraft as well as 707 and 727 commercial jets. “Then, the fi rst winter came and


I remembered why I left Michigan in the fi rst place,” Cupery explains. “I came out of the hangar one night and couldn’t fi nd my car because it was buried in snow. I complained to my father and he told me the best time to move was when I could fi t everything I owned in the trunk of my car.”


AN OPEN DOOR So, he packed his belongings and returned to southern California where he worked as an inspector/ mechanic for Rajay Turbochargers in Long Beach. However, he only worked there a few weeks before a Northrop representative called out of the blue to ask him to become a fl ight engineer for a new Gulfstream II private jet. He interviewed with the president of the company and with Don Short, a pilot who fl ew Air Force One for President Lyndon Johnson. When he returned to work the next day, he learned that Northrop had already called his boss, who handed him a paycheck for the entire week and directed him to report to Northrop the next day. Cupery processed into Northrop


that Friday, received another paycheck and a ticket to Savannah, GA, to watch the new Gulfstream jet being built.


1-2 page AMT vertical.indd 1 8 DOMmagazine.com | dec 2017 | jan 2018 5/2/17 3:23 PM


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