Prior to graduating from WMU in 1960, Pat Schiffer had already begun to leave his mark in aviation. Even before accepting his diploma, Schiffer was hired as the aviation program’s second flight instructor, and soon rose to the positions of WMU Chief Flight Instructor and Assistant Professor. Prior to his WMU tenure, Pat had served in the Army in WWII, learned to fly a Stearman on the Michigan family farm, and trained Air Force pilots to fly AT-6s, T-28s and T-34s during the Korean War. Schiffer devoted himself to WMU’s aviation program, teaching almost every class and countless students, while working tirelessly to enhance the program through his 23 years of service as an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner and FAA Safety Counselor. With over 27 years of support and commitment to WMU’s program, Pat was pivotal to its successful development and well-deserved reputation. Through his determined rigor and focus on excellence, Pat contributed to every aspect of the program. He was personally involved with his students, helping them find jobs, and even offering free checkrides. Most importantly, Pat inspired students with his passion and enthusiasm for flying.
Colonel(R) Richard Andrew Sperling was born in Elmhurst, Illinois on July 4th, 1942. After graduating from Western Michigan University as a Distinguished Military Graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in June 1965, he entered the US Army where he became a helicopter pilot. During his military career Col. Sperling earned numerous awards including the Legion of Merit, the Air Medal w/22 OLC and a Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism when rescuing a downed aircrew in Vietnam. His career in the Army and Army Reserves spanned 30 years, eventually retiring at the rank of Colonel. As a civilian, Col. Sperling was a commercial pilot with United Airlines, flying Boeing 737, 747, 757 and 767 aircraft until his retirement on August 1st, 2002. After retirement he continued to share his passion for aviation as a Boy Scout’s Aviation Merit Badge Counselor and EAA Young Eagles Coordinator. The “Colonel Richard A. Sperling Distinguished Service Cross Endowed Scholarship” at WMU was established to provide students aviation opportunities. This scholarship assists Army ROTC cadets pursuing an Aviation Flight Science degree at the WMU College of Aviation.
Born in rural Mississippi, Sid Adams propelled his life from humble beginnings to earn a degree from Alcorn State University, serve in the US Army and dedicate 29 years with the Veterans Administration. The youngest of 11 children, Sid’s love of aviation took off during his tenure as an 82nd Airborne paratrooper. Eventually earning his private pilot license and becoming an aircraft owner himself (Cessna Cardinal N13282), Sid became determined to pass on his passion of aviation to the next generation, specifically traditionally under-represented groups. In addition to his career with the VA, Sid became intimately involved in numerous city and national organizations: the NAACP, the Organization of Black Airline Pilots, Battle Creek Unlimited, the Battle Creek Tax Increment Finance Authority, WMU’s College of Aviation Advisory Board, the Michigan Aeronautics Commission, and numerous others. Parlaying his talents and passion, Sid took part in the committee to help establish the College of Aviation at its permanent home in Battle Creek, MI. Furthermore Sid helped to establish the Battle Creek Flight Academy, with the mission of introducing aviation careers and opportunities to women and minorities.