WMU News

Local youths taking to the sky before taking to the road

March 25, 2005

KALAMAZOO--This spring, Western Michigan University will give 22 West Michigan students grades 8 through 12 a chance to fly a plane--some before they take their first drivers ed class.

The students, all from the Battle Creek, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo areas, are participating in a program begun at WMU this past October called Flying for Learning and Inspiration, or FLI. Now nearing the end of their academic year of training, these inaugural FLI participants are ready to enter the cockpit, accompanied by a WMU flight instructor.

Twelve of the students will be taking off from the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, six on Friday, March 25, and six on Friday, April 1. The remaining 10 students will be taking off from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids on Friday, April 8.

The 22 youngsters will graduate from the FLI program in May, then have another chance to pilot a plane during a five-day summer camp in June.

FLI targets kids and primarily is focused on increasing awareness of aviation careers among groups of people who currently are underrepresented in the aviation industry.

The program helps participants explore career options in aviation by providing hands-on activities such as flight training and bringing in speakers and arranging tours of aviation-related companies and facilities. Additionally, students are able to conduct individual research and are exposed to activities involving engineering, aviation technology and airport management.

The program is a partnership between WMU's College of Aviation and the Martin Luther King, Jr./ Cesar Chavez/Rosa Parks College Day Program, which works through the state of Michigan's Department of Labor and Economic Growth to increase graduation rates for underrepresented students in post-secondary education.

The schools that WMU's first class of FLI participants attend, and the number of students attending each school, are: Adelante High School in Grand Rapids--6, Allendale Alternative High School in Allendale--1, Battle Creek Central High School in Battle Creek--2, Godwin Heights High School in Wyoming--1, Hillside Middle School in Kalamazoo--4, Kalamazoo Central High School in Kalamazoo--5, Ottawa Hill High School in Grand Rapids--2, Portage Northern High School in Portage--2, and Union High School in Grand Rapids--2.

For more information about the FLI program, contact Erika Carr, King/Chavez/Parks Program director, at (269) 387-3319 or <erika.carr@wmich.edu>.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
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