WMU News

WMU-trained pilots take top honors in London ceremony

July 2, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- British Airways pilots trained at Western Michigan University took three of four major awards presented by the airline at a June 28 Wings Presentation Program in London.

The ceremony, held to commission new pilots for BA's commercial carriers, included 16 graduates of WMU's International Pilot Training Centre as well as graduates of Oxford Air Training School in England. The WMU-trained pilots were members of Speedbird V, the fifth group of BA cadets to complete training at the IPTC since BA began training its cadets there in 1998. The IPTC is part of WMU's College of Aviation at W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, Mich.

Sir Malcolm Field, chairman of the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority, presented awards to the four top prize winners, including the following three from WMU.

The Lord King Cup for best overall professional skills and personal qualities went to Richard McWilliams. The NASA Navigation prize for highest assessments in air navigation skills also went to McWilliams. The Doug Ord Cup, given for enthusiasm for life and warmth of character, went to Benjamin Aird. In addition, a fourth WMU-trained cadet, William Rawling, was selected to deliver the cadets' thank you speech on behalf of all cadets in the ceremony. His speech focused on the experiences of his classmates and earlier classes of cadets who were trained at WMU.

According to Dr. Richard Wright, dean of the College of Aviation, the success of the cadets in Speedbird V enhances the record of strong showings by WMU-trained cadets, who have now captured eight of the last 12 such awards made by BA.

"The prizes show the hard, excellent work by the cadets," Wright says, "and it also shows the outstanding teaching being done by our instructors. I'm extremely proud of both groups."

WMU's College of Aviation and its IPTC are part of a Michigan SmartZone dedicated to aviation education, research and e-learning. With the help of its partners in the Battle Creek community, the college recently acquired a 737-400 full-motion flight simulator that allows the IPTC to offer complete training through the jet orientation level for clients that currently include British Airways, Emirates Airlines and Delta Air Lines as well as self-sponsored students.

"With the acquisition of the new simulator, WMU and Battle Creek's aviation SmartZone are poised for phenomenal growth in research, development and further investment in aviation and e-learning," says Battle Creek Mayor Mark Behnke.

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

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