"My family is full of pilots," says the aviation flight science major. "I was always at the airport as a kid. I have been around airplanes my entire life and soloed on my 16th birthday." Hailing from Midland, where Michigan's fabled "thumb" attaches to the rest of the mitten, her choice of WMU as her future in higher education was predictable. "My grandparents went to Western and my cousin -- Jeremy Hierholzer -- is on the aviation faculty," she says.
As a 2006 graduate of the WMU College of Aviation with a degree in aviation maintenance technology, Fish was trained to make certain that those metal birds could fly almost all the time. Today, as a test pilot for the U. S. Army, he makes certain the aircraft are safe to fly and perform their functions.
To say that the native of Grand Rapids, is not your typical student would be the classic understatement. After his 2009 graduation from Forest Hills Central High School, Doug Stutzman earned his first aviation degree in 36 months by completing courses year round. Then Stutzman served eight years in the Army with all kinds of interesting stints that would fill any passport with adventures. Now he's back at Western in pursuit of a second degree in aviation. On top of that, he plays rugby -- big time.
Come meet Eric Epplett, an international flight clearance coordinator with Kalitta Air. Epplett is a 2012 alumni of the WMU College of Aviation, earning his degree in aviation management and operations.
Emma Hughes, who grew up in Kiel, Wis., about an hour north of Milwaukee, definitely flies in the shadows of Earhart and the rest these days. She represents Western and its aviation program in the Air Race Classic, the annual 2,400-mile transcontinental event for female pilots who range in age from 17 to 90 and come from the ranks of students, teachers, doctors, airline pilots and business owners. Established in 1929 and attracting Cochran, Coleman and their peers, it was once known as the Powder Puff Derby.
Teagan Arndt not only fixes airplanes, she jumps out of them. A junior in the Western Michigan University College of Aviation majoring in aviation technical operations, she is involved with Skydive Broncos, the university's sky-diving team. One could say that she is aviation-ready from the ground floor up.
"When I enrolled at the Western Michigan University College of Aviation," he says about what amounts to an unusual switcheroo, "I majored in flight science. But when I decided it was not the lifestyle I wanted, I changed to the program in aviation technical operations. I have felt at home ever since. All of the programs offered here are amazing," says Freeland, who is a WMU junior enrolled in his second year of aviation-maintenance courses. "I just happened to find my calling a little later. I am more than happy with the fact that I decided to make the call that I did because I truly ended up where I felt I was meant to be."
Been and many of his fellow Illinoisans chose WMU because of its decades-old reputation in the aviation industry and its "amazing" training resources. He mentioned the fleet of aircraft available to log flying hours and the FTDs (Flight Training Device), which "in my opinion sets Western apart from other universities."
As a December 2018 graduate of the WMU College of Aviation, Adam Rice has been a busy individual. Leveraging his time at the University, he added to his resume, took advantage of opportunities, and made the most with his time at WMU. All of which has led to his current position as a First Officer with SkyWest Airlines.
Sam Stallman will have two of the three career bases covered when his days at the WMU College of Aviation are behind him. Western's aviation program became more than a blip on Stallman's radar "because of the warmth and welcoming nature I experienced when visiting the campus. I considered similar universities," he says, "but Western was the one that really felt like home. The college's program really impressed me and made the most sense."