It is with great sorrow that the First Flight Foundation shares the obituary for board president, Will Plentl.
On Saturday, March 23, 2019, at the early age of 73, Will decided it was time to go flying with the eagles. He was born to the late Lt. Colonel Willard G. Plentl, Sr. and Gloria Belle Plentl in Houston, Texas. His brother John Patrick Plentl preceded him in death.
Will had a distinguished military career serving in the Air Force, North Carolina National Guard and the Reserves. He was a pilot and a Professional Engineer earning a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute in 1967. He began his aviation career as an Air Force Supervising Engineer at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, where he supported construction, research and development and worked on Air Force operations under system command, airfield selection and contingencies and supervised engineering and construction regarding Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. After Wright-Patterson AFB, he served as an aviation engineer for Florida’s Department of Transportation which prepared him for his next role as the Aviation Director for the State of North Carolina.
He developed flight services; pioneered state construction standards for NC and the Southeast. Throughout his years with the NCDOT-Aviation, he developed and honed managerial expertise navigating the state and federal bureaucracies for aviation transportation systems, block grants and addressed business and tourism needs. He then became the Airport Director for the New Hanover International Airport in Wilmington, NC, where he increased hub options and brought one-stop connecting services to 141 domestic and 22 international markets. His next opportunity became the Deputy Director at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport where he lead them to both a world top five and top 10 ranking for operations. He also managed employee, customer, vendor and carrier interests and programs. To add to his accomplishments he developed the CLT Center for multiple airport operations and the establishment of a USO center at the airport. After retiring, he began working as an aviation consultant with Parrish and Partners.
All through his career, Will was actively involved in the First Flight Foundation beginning in the early 1990’s. He served on the First Flight Centennial December 17, 2003. He was a life member and past president of the First Flight Society and then President of the First Flight Foundation. During his career, he received numerous awards and was a two-time recipient of the North Carolina ‘s highest honor – the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, awarded by Governor Martin in 1992 and by Governor Hunt in 1997.
Will was a wonderful husband, father, Papa and brother. He is survived by his high school sweetheart and loving wife, Ann, of 51 years; by two amazing sons: Willard G. Plentl, II (Maria) and Jeffrey S. Pentl (Sarah); four grandchildren: Morgan, Tanner, Cooper and Wynn; by a special great-niece: Jennifer; by his sister: Joy Plentl Hensley (Mike); mother-in-law: Ruth Flowers; and by many nieces, nephews and other family and friends.
Visitations will be held on Thursday evening, April 11th from 6-8 pm at Mitchell Funeral Home (7209 Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh) and on Friday, April 12th from 12 noon until 12:45 pm. Funeral Services will be held on Friday, April 12th at 1 pm in the funeral home chapel, with burial and Military Honors to follow at Raleigh Memorial Park.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, please donate to your favorite charity in memory of Will.