Every year, the Aircraft Maintenance Technology Magazine finds 40 individuals under the age of 40 doing excellent work in the field of aviation and present them with the AMT Next Gen 40 Under 40 award. This year, 25-year old Lane Community College Alumni Kyle Bushman, who runs the Ragwood Refactory in Creswell, was one of those featured.
Bushman restores and rebuilds antique and bush planes.
Bushman’s fascination with planes started at a young age when he spent his time flying remote control planes with his brother. His focus began to shift when he discovered the thrill of repairing and rebuilding them, and seeing his own creations take flight. He knew he wanted to be around and do things with planes, but he didn’t really have any plans for college otherwise.
“What put it all together and really made me jump into it was the guys from the Aviation and Powerplant program coming to my high school and giving us a 20-minute talk about the program,” Bushman said. After researching the program and the class list, Bushman knew that this was what he wanted to do.
LCC’s A&P program prepared Bushman for working on all kinds of aviation machines.
“The course covers a massive range of machines from jet engines to reciprocating to radio engines,” Bushman said. “It was like drinking out of a fire hose, there’s so much that comes at you in those two years.” Bushman’s time in the program consisted of classes Monday through Friday from eight to four, “It was basically a full-time job.”
He finished the LCC program when he was 20 and went to California looking for work on helicopters.
“Traditionally, most students come out of school and worked on helicopters, because that’s where the most money is,” Bushman said. After not having any luck, Bushman ended up coming back to Creswell, and working for Tim Talen, the previous owner of the Ragwood Refactory. He worked with Talen for three years restoring antique planes and such until Talen retired, and Bushman decided to take over the business and run it himself at the age of 23.
Even though Bushman took over Talen’s shop, he’s done his best to keep things running in a similar fashion while adding his own personal touches to the company. Bushman has developed an interest in restoring older model backcountry bush planes as well as antiques.
The biggest piece of advice that Bushman wanted to offer to young individuals interested in this field was, “There is nothing wrong with pursuing a trade. You don’t have to get a four-year degree to be successful. You could go to a trade school and have work for the rest of your life because the need for trade will never go away.”
Bushman is always willing to find time to show his shop and his work to younger individuals that express interest, in hopes of keeping the trade alive.