Faculty and Staff


Phone: (269) 964-6652
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Robert Aardema

Associate Professor

Mr. Aardema received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Hope College with additional undergraduate work in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. He continued as an undergraduate studying Aircraft Technology at Western Michigan University and earned his Master of Science in Manufacturing Administration from WMU as well. After working for a time as a corporate pilot and flight department manager, he joined the faculty at WMU in 1979. Mr. Aardema is a former U.S. Air Force and Michigan Air National Guard pilot who retired in 1993 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. With time in such aircraft as the KC-135, O-2, A-37, and A-10, as well as numerous civilian aircraft, he also holds an FAA Airline Transport Pilot certificate with Single and Multi-engine Land, Instrument rating and Certificated Flight Instructor. In addition, he is an A & P mechanic with an Inspection Authorization. Mr. Aardema teaches such courses as Aircraft Structures, Systems, Engines and Advanced Aerodynamics.

Office: 1510 AEC
Phone: (269) 964-6741
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Blair Balden

Associate Professor

Dr. Balden joined the WMU faculty in 1996. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Regents College and a Master's degree in Technology Education from West Virginia University. He received his Doctorate from Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2006, graduating magna cum laude. Dr. Balden has been active in the aviation industry for over 25 years. He has experience in aircraft manufacturing, having worked for Cessna, Learjet, and Raytheon. He worked in avionics/electrical systems installation and testing, as well as in quality assurance/inspection. While employed at Raytheon, Dr. Balden was selected by the FAA to serve as a Designated Manufacturing Inspection Representative (DMIR). He has worked for several air carriers, including Virgin Islands Seaplane Shuttle (Grumman G-73, G-73T), American Airlines (MD-80), United Feeder Service (BAe ATP), and Spirit Airlines (MD-80). He is an FAA-licensed Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) Mechanic. He holds an Inspection Authorization (IA) from the FAA, and a General Radiotelephone Operator License with Radar Endorsement from the FCC. Dr. Balden was first designated by the FAA as a Mechanic Examiner (DME) in 1999. He is also an Examiner for FCC licensing. His research interests are in the occupational licensing and professional credentialing of aviation maintenance personnel; he has published several articles and given several presentations in this area. Before coming to WMU, he taught Aviation Technology for four years at Fairmont State College in West Virginia. His primary teaching areas are avionics, electrical systems, and aviation law.

Office: Maintenance Training Hangar RM. 1044
Phone: (269) 964-6874
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Patrick Benton

Associate Professor

Professor Benton has been with the College of Aviation for ten years and has a B.S. in Aviation Technology and an M.S. in Manufacturing Administration. He holds an A & P license and a commercial pilot license. His teaching specialty areas are aircraft reliability and maintainability, non-destructive testing, and transport aircraft systems. He has set up several powerplant test cells for turbine and reciprocating engines while here at WMU. Mr. Benton's experience includes military air traffic controller, aircraft repair facility owner/operator, technical field service representative, and manager of logistic support for an aircraft hydraulic manufacturer.

Office: AEC 1510
Phone: 269 964-9448
Fax: 269 964-6473

Lori Brown

Assistant Professor

Lori Brown joined the Department of Aviation Sciences, College of Aviation, in 2001. She earned her Master of Aviation Human Factors degree from Swinburne University of Technology, Department of Engineering, International Scholars program, in Australia. She is continuing her studies at the Naval Post Graduate School and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Center for Homeland Defense and Security. Her aviation career began in 1986 with Continental Airlines' Management and Inflight Training Programs. Lori has over 25 years of industry training and experience with several airlines. She has trained International pilots, as well as, pilots from the F.A.A., F.B.I., C.I.A., N.O.A.A., Wal-Mart, and the Government of Mexico for Flight Safety International. For several years, Lori worked as a Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) Instructor for our International Pilot training Program (IPTC) instructing international students from British Airways, and KLM, in the classroom and 737-400 Simulator. She holds an Airline Transport Rating, FEX, JAA MCC, AGI and IGI certifications and type ratings. Her dedication and passion for aviation earned her the Who’s Who among America’s Teachers Award 2002-2003, 2003-2004, a nomination for WMU’s prestigious Distinguished Teacher’s Service Award, FRACAA, and SFSA research grant awards. Her teaching assignments have centered on Line Oriented Flight Crew Simulation, Airline Flight Operations, Commercial Pilot and Multi-Engine pilot certification, Aviation Meteorology, and Advanced Aircraft Systems. She also teaches Community Education Programs for Community Enrichment Programs, to promote aviation in our community. Her research interests include training the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals; Countermeasures to Mitigate Fatigue; Effects of Commuting on Fatigue; and Wireless Communication Technologies. She has several publications, presentations and book chapters on these issues, which lead to her recent nomination for the Flight Safety Foundation, 2008, Excellence in Publishing, Brownlow Award. She is an appointed member of the Battle Creek Homeland Security Committee, the Civil Aviation Consulting Team, for the Spectrum Group in the Nation’s Capital, as well as, a Civil and Military evaluator of the American Council on Education (ACE), to provide a collaborative link between the U. S. Department of Defense and higher education through the review of military training.

Office: 1510 AEC
Phone: (269) 964-6991
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Mervyn Elliott

Faculty Specialist II - Lecturer

Became Program Manager to the National Diploma in Aerospace Studies as Engineering Licensing transitioned to JAR 66. After 10 years he joined Western Michigan University in January 1999 teaching Aerodynamics and Aircraft Systems to the international students (British Airways, Air Lingus and Emirates) at the International Pilot Training Center at Western, and now teaches Aerodynamics and Performance both at Freshman and Advanced level along with Aircraft Systems. He attained his FAA PPL in 1990 and now holds a JAA CPL. He has grown up playing rugby at school and rowing outside of it. He continues to coach soccer which he has done for many years in Battle Creek and is on the board of the local American Youth Soccer Organization. He met his wife whilst at the American School and now has 2 children.

Office: 1510 AEC
Phone: (269) 964-4982
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Martin Grant

Faculty Specialist II - Lecturer

My name is Martin Grant and I am currently a Faculty Specialist at the College of Aviation, a position I have held for the last nine years. Prior to this I spent two years in the sunshine teaching mainly European students at Flight Safety International in Florida. My wife and I came to America ten years ago following my retirement from the Royal Air Force. I spent twenty two happy years in a variety of positions, ten of those on front line helicopter squadrons, to a desk job at the Joint Headquarters on the Rhine, and ending with a very enjoyable few years with the Aircraft Engineering Development and Investigation Team. I was recruited in 1999 to teach at WMU on the International Pilot Training Program, and during that time I taught many British Airways and Aer Lingus students, as well as many independent students from Holland, Belgium and the Arab Emirates. I now teach both maintenance and flight students at our college, as well as having formed a link with industry in developing a course for Smith’s Industries (noe General Electric), a leading manufacturer of avionic instruments based in Grand Rapids. I very much enjoy the interaction with young people, and feel fortunate that our Aviation students are highly motivated and dedicated to their studies.

Office: 1510 AEC
Phone: (269) 964-5132
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Kevin High

Associate Professor

Mr. Kevin C. High earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aviation Technology from Purdue University and went on to earn a Master of Arts Degree in Management from Webster University. Kevin is an FAA Certified Airframe and Powerplant mechanic who also holds a private pilot certificate. Before joining Western Michigan university's faculty in 2000, Kevin worked in Vincennes University as an Aviation Maintenance Technology Coordinator. While at Vincennes University, Kevin participate in designing and writing a new FAA Part 147 aviation maintenance curriculum. He also taught aviation maintenance classes, and advised students on their career paths. Prior to working at Vincennes Kevin spent 12 years working with aircraft turbine engines in the manufacturing and airline industry. Mr. High will be teaching Reciprocating Engine Overhaul (AVS 360) and Aircraft Turbine Engines and Systems (AVS 464).

Office: 2210 Kohrman
Phone: (269) 387-0679
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Willem Homan


Dr. Homan holds a Doctorate in Leadership from Northern Arizona University and an MBA from Arizona State. He also completed a Master's in Aeronautical Technology at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and is a licensed pilot (ATP) and Flight Instructor. Willem teaches courses in Safety, Crew Resource Management, Aviation Law, and Flight Physiology. His research focuses on safety and performance in the aviation workplace. Areas of investigation include human factors, air transportation safety, and flight simulation. Dr. Homan's current papers center on the globalization of air travel, safety issues confronting air transportation professionals and the challenges associated with the utilization of simulated training environments in the aviation industry. He has numerous publications and recently received a NASA grant (in collaboration with Wayne State University) to study safety issues at the Kennedy Space Center.

Phone: (989) 245-4494

Gregory Pinnell

Adjunct Professor

Dr. Gregory Pinnell is a board certified family practitioner/Senior AME licensed in Michigan. He serves as a Senior Flight Surgeon for the 434th Air Refueling Wing, Grissom Air Reserve Base. Dr. Pinnell works with the Department of Defense Human Space Flight Support and has worked multiple Space Shuttle missions. He is a veteran of Operation Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom having been deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2002 and 2004. He was also deployed in support of the Balkan’s Operation Joint Forge. Dr. Pinnell serves as an adjunct professor for Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation.

Office: 2210 Kohman Hall
Phone: (269) 387-0354
Fax: (269) 387-0355

William Rantz


Dr. Rantz earned a Bachelor of Science in Aviation Operations. He also holds a Master of Arts in Career and Technical Education and a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Western Michigan University. He also earned a Doctor of Philosophy in psychology with a concentration in behavior analysis. Dr. Rantz holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, Certified Flight Instrument Instructor, and Advanced Ground Instructor certificates. He has flight experience in corporate aviation, flight school management, and air taxi operations. He has taught multi-engine flight instruction and unusual attitude procedures and recovery. Currently Dr. Rantz teaches Introduction to Aviation (AVS 1200), International Navigation (AVS 3220), Airline Operations (AVS 4110), Corporate Aviation Management (AVS 4240) and International Aviation (AVS 4280). Dr. Rantz's current research investigates behavior-based safety, systems analysis, and total performance improvement in the aviation environment. Research is being conducted in collaboration with Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation, Department of Psychology and the University of New South Wales, Australia. One such project is a behavior-based safety initiative designed to improve the safety performance of flight training. This project uses safety data to pinpoint at-risk training behaviors, which in turn prompt development of observational checklists and safety management system solutions. Dr. Rantz left his commercial pilot career to become a Western Michigan University Flight Instructor in 1993 and joined the Faculty in August 1995. Please visit Professor Rantz’s web page http://homepages.wmich.edu/~rantz/.

Office: AFO
Phone: (269) 964-6615
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Vladimir Risukhin


Dr. Vladimir N. Risukhin is an internationally recognized authority in crew resource management, automated aircraft flight operations and flight crew training. Vladimir obtained his Ph.D. degree in Aeronautical Engineering form St. Petersburg Academy of Civil Aviation (Russia) and Doctor of Science degree in Air Transport Operations from Moscow State Technical University of Civil Aviation (Russia). Vladimir is a former instructor pilot of Boeing 777, Boeing 767, Airbus 310 aircraft, and of several Russian-built aircraft. His total flight time is above 15,000 hours. In 2002 Vladimir became a WMU College of Aviation faculty, and retired from Aeroflot - Russian Airlines.

Office: 1510 AEC
Phone: (269) 964-8333
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Gail Rouscher

Faculty Specialist

Mrs. Rouscher earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Management and Organizational Development and a Master of Arts Degree in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University. Mrs. Rouscher is a U. S. Naval Veteran and holds an A & P license. Prior to joining the faculty at Western Michigan University in the Fall of 2008, Mrs. Rouscher most recently worked at Duncan Aviation, primarily in aviation maintenance training, composites, and sheetmetal. She has 15 years experience in aviation maintenance encompassing military, cargo, and corporate aircraft. Mrs. Rouscher teaches courses in both the maintenance and flight science curriculum. Mrs. Rouscher has been an active member of Women in Aviation International - serving as the faculty sponsor for the college chapter of Women in Aviation and has presented to the WAI members at their annual conference within the maintenance forum. Mrs. Rouscher maintains her membership with the Professional Aviation Maintenance Association, and is a member of the Association for Women in Aviation Maintenance - serving as the Chapter Coordinator at an international level.

Office: 1221 AEC
Phone: (269) 964-6993
Fax: (269) 964-6473

Gil Sinclair

Faculty Chair

Mr. Sinclair received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from The University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England. He also holds a MA in Career &school Instructor and Academic Standards Instructor for the JAA program, and holds a FAA Ground Instructor Certificate with Advanced and Instrument ratings. Mr. Sinclair has been teaching baccalaureate courses since Fall 2002, currently teaching courses in Aviation Physiology, Aviation Safety and Crew Resource Management. He has also been involved in developing and teaching the groundschool for the Jet Orientation and Handling courses conducted on the College's full motion Flight Training Device (based on the 737-400).

Office: 2210 Kohrman
Phone: (269) 387-0675
Fax: (269) 387-0355

Geoff Whitehurst

Assistant Professor

Dr. Geoff Whitehurst earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics at London University, England, his Master of Arts in Evaluation, Measurement and Research (EMR) at WMU and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in EMR. Geoff spent over 20 years as a Navigator in the Royal Air Force before retiring to teach ab-initio airline pilots. He has taught fixed wing pilots in the United States, including 5 years as Chief Ground Instructor at WMU’s International Pilot Training Center, and the Middle East (Qatar), as well as rotary pilots at Bristow Academy in Florida. Geoff returns to WMU to join the faculty and teach such courses as Introduction to Aviation, Aircraft Safety, Global Navigation and Aviation Meteorology.

Office: 2210 Kohrman
Phone: (269) 387-0674
Fax: (269) 387-0355

Lisa Whittaker

Associate Professor

Lisa Whittaker earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical studies with a minor in aviation management in 1981 and a Master of Science Degree in Aeronautical Science in 1993 from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. In 2009, she completed a master’s degree in career and technology education at WMU. She began flying gliders in 1975 and has since acquired licenses and certificates through Certified Flight Instructor- Instrument Airplane Certificate (CFI-IA). Lisa spent 17 years in the industry working for aircraft manufacturers, including Douglas Aircraft, Fairchild Aircraft, and Cessna Aircraft. Most of her work was in the technical Product Support area, with assignments in Field Service, Customer Service, DC-10 Aging Aircraft program, Citation X support, and Supervisor of Maintenance Engineering for Citation. Lisa kept actively involved in General Aviation over the years while providing flight instruction in Long Beach, San Antonio and Wichita. Professor Whittaker joined the faculty at Western Michigan University in the Fall of 2000 and has taught courses including Aerodynamics, Introduction to Aviation, Aviation Safety, Airline Flight Operations, Airport Administration and Finance, and Airline Administration. Her research work blends two areas of focus; Women’s Studies and Aviation Operations. She presented a paper at the Air Transport Research Society Conference in Nagoya, Japan, titled “On Globalization of Maintenance Engineering Education”, which was co-authored with Dr. Risukhin. Most recently, she has focused her research on aviation in Africa. Between 2010 and 2012, she travelled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia several times and spent considerable time with Ethiopian Airlines to study the operational impact of their ambitious expansion plans. This paper, “Sustainability of Expansion of an African Airline”, was presented at the Air Transport Research Society conference in Tainan, Taiwan in June 2012. She also presented this at the 7th Annual International Conference on African Development in Kalamazoo in July, 2012.

College of Aviation
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5314 USA
269-964-6375 | 269-964-6473 Fax