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Events mark 70 years of WMU aviation education

April 14, 2010

BATTLE CREEK, Mich.--Western Michigan University's celebrated College of Aviation will mark more than 70 years of aviation education and its 10-year anniversary as a college during a weeklong celebration set for April 19-25.

Planned events range from a career fair and golf outing to a gala dinner at Battle Creek's Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center that will honor industry, economic development and political leaders who helped pave the way for establishing the WMU facility at Battle Creek's W.K. Kellogg Airport. The week will conclude with a fly-in and pancake breakfast at the airport. A number of opportunities throughout the week are tailored for members of the public, with two dates for tours of the college and presentations on the history of WMU aviation.

The celebration marks both the launch of aviation education at WMU in 1939, and the program's elevation to the status of a college within the University in 1999.

"Who could have ever imagined where we would be today from such a small beginning back in 1939--just 36 years after the Wright brothers' flight at Kitty Hawke," College of Aviation Dean Dave Powell says. "How fortunate we are that others had the vision and commitment to educate students in the field of aviation during an era when the world was becoming a global community."

The week's major event is the Friday, April 23, dinner at the Federal Center. Keynote speakers for the event are Steven L. Buss, executive director of the Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles Program, and Dale Klapmeier, co-founder and chairman of the board of aircraft producer Cirrus Design Corp.

Highlights of the event include a ceremony in which three people will be inducted into the college's Hall of Honor. They are: Thomas Deckard, a longtime WMU faculty member, Air Force pilot and flight instructor; Suzanne D. Upjohn Parish, pioneering Kalamazoo aviator and philanthropist; and Elmer Clare "Buck" Weaver, pilot, mechanic, teacher and WMU faculty member.

Also during the event, five "visionaries" will be honored for their role in building the College of Aviation. They are: Dr. Richard T. Burke, WMU emeritus vice president for regional education; Dr. Joseph H. Dunlap, president of Spokane Community College and founding director of the WMU School of Aviation Sciences; George A. Franklin, chair of the Aviation Advisory Board, president of Franklin Public Affairs and WMU trustee emeritus; James F. Hettinger, president of Jim Hettinger Urban Development and retired president and CEO of Battle Creek Unlimited; and Gregory A. Lyman, who served as dean of the college in 2002 and who retired recently as senior vice president and corporate secretary of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

The dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $45 for alumni and the general public, $10 for aviation students and $20 for students not enrolled in the aviation college. To make a reservation for this event, call the College of Aviation dean's office at (269) 964-6653.

The week's concluding event will be a Fly-in and Pancake Breakfast set for 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 24, at the W.K. Kellogg Airport. Sponsored by the Sky Broncos, WMU's heralded precision flight team, the event will include aircraft displays and public tours of the College of Aviation from 8 to 10 a.m. and a presentation on the "History of Aviation Programs at WMU." Cost of the breakfast is $5.

Additional events are scheduled during the celebration week. All events are open to the public, with nominal costs for attending the luncheon activities.

Aviation 70th Anniversary Events

  • Monday, April 19--A cookout sponsored by the Multicultural Association of Aviation from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the student lounge of the college's Aviation Education Center in Battle Creek.
  • Tuesday, April 20--A cookout sponsored by the Aviation Student Council from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the flagpoles in the center of WMU's main campus in Kalamazoo.
  • Tuesday, April 20--Aviation movie night, a free event from 7 p.m. to midnight in Room 210 of the Bernhard Center on WMU's main campus in Kalamazoo.
  • Wednesday, April 21--A Women in Aviation chili cook-off from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the student lounge of the college's Aviation Education Center in Battle Creek.
  • Thursday, April 22--Aviation Outlook Day, featuring an afternoon of networking opportunities with alumni, from 1 to 6 p.m. at the college's Kellogg Airport facilities in Battle Creek.
  • Thursday, April 22--A "Battle of the Video Game Bands" and performance by Small Town Son from 7:30 to 11 p.m. in Room 2302 Sangren Hall on the main campus in Kalamazoo.
  • Friday, April 23--A golf outing at Kalamazoo's Ridgeview Golf Course from 8 a.m. to noon.
  • Friday, April 23--Public tours from 1 to 5 p.m. of the college's Kellogg Airport facilities in Battle Creek.
  • Friday, April 23--Presentation on the "History of Aviation Programs at WMU" at 1 p.m. in Room 1207 of the college's Aviation Education Center in Battle Creek.

Additional information on the entire celebration is available at wmich.edu/aviation or call (269) 964-6375.

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Media contact: Cheryl Roland, (269) 387-8400, cheryl.roland@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400