WMU News

EduCABLE, Community Access cablecast Northwest 747 ceremonies

Feb. 17, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's EduCABLE and Community Access television in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo will present videotaped coverage of the ceremony during which Northwest Airlines presented the College of Aviation with a Boeing 747-100B. (See schedules below for dates and times.)

The ceremony took place Feb. 4 at W. K. Kellogg Airport, in Battle Creek, which is home to the University's aviation college. Taking part were President Elson S. Floyd, George A. Franklin, chair of the Board of Trustees, Bill Wade, Northwest's vice president for line maintenance operations; Margaret O'Reilly, senior vice president for external affairs at the Michigan Economic Development Corp.; Battle Creek Mayor Ted Dearing; and James Hettinger of Battle Creek Unlimited, the city's economic development agency.

The Boeing 747 was recently retired by Northwest Airlines and donated to the University for use in preparing future pilots and maintenance personnel for the airline industry. The move represents the first known gift of a 747 to any college or university.

The plane's final flight from Phoenix to Battle Creek ended its 94,000 miles of travel--some 10 years in the air. While in service to Northwest, the plane was used for international travel to locations around the world, served as a military transport during Operation Desert Storm, brought relief to Central American victims of Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and, occasionally, served as a press plane accompanying Air Force One for presidential trips.

"Western Michigan University has been the departure point for many Northwest Airlines careers," according to Bill Wade, Northwest vice president for line maintenance operations, who presented the aircraft to University personnel. "It's a pleasure to know that this aircraft, which safely and reliably carried passengers all over the world, will now be a valuable educational tool in the state of Michigan--home to more than 11,000 of our employees."

Underscoring Wade's point was the appearance at a Battle Creek news conference by Capt. Chris Blendermann, a 757 captain for Northwest and a 1977 graduate of WMU's aviation program. The event preceded the plane's arrival at the WMU facility.

The aircraft, built in 1970, is the 75th 747 built by Boeing and was retired by Northwest in October 1999. WMU will use the plane in all of its aviation programs, giving aircraft maintenance and flight majors a hands-on laboratory in which to learn.

The videotape of the ceremony was produced by University Video Services and directed by Steve Kettner.

Please consult local listings to verify scheduled cablecasts of the ceremony listed below.

Battle Creek Community Access

Kalamazoo Community Access

EduCABLE (available only at WMU):

Media contact: Cheryl Roland, 616 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400