Blain's diploma in aviation flight science was awarded by the Western Michigan University College of Aviation in 2014, a symbol of the wisdom he showed in warming to the sales pitches in the "Pure Michigan" messages on TV. He hails from Skokie, Ill., and graduated from Niles North High School in 2010. This level of experience qualified Blain for his current duties -- first officer for Envoy Air, a 14,000-employee subsidiary of American Airlines that was formerly known as American Eagle and is headquartered in Irving, Texas. As American's largest regional provider, Envoy has hubs in Chicago, Dallas, Miami and New York City, and today flies the products of the Brazil-based aircraft manufacturer -- Embraer -- that was established in 1969.
Shortly after his graduation in April 2019 with degrees in both aviation flight science and aviation management (with a minor in economics), Brown taxied into the real world and is now a first officer for SkyWest Airlines flying out of Detroit. SkyWest was founded in 1972 and still calls St. George, Utah, its home headquarters. Like many College of Aviation alumni, he thinks the best thing about his job is simply going to work. Yet getting there is not all that easy. "Becoming an airline pilot is a lot of hard work as countless other alumni can attest," Brown says
Richardson, a senior at Western majoring in aviation flight science, says he got the flying bug from the birds, but it didn't become something of a personal pandemic until his last year in high school. And it took a bit of soul-searching. "I asked myself about all the things that interested me," he recalls. "There was a tie among music education, culinary arts, photography and aviation. As a kid, I was always fascinated with flying. Driving around with my parents, I would always tend to watch the skies."
Hailing from the area around the Capitol City of Lansing, Lantz says he had "a life-long interest in aviation, but I never thought I would make it a career until I learned about Western's aviation school." Now in his senior year, he's majoring in aviation management and operations, complementing that with a minor in general business. "When I learned that Western had this specialized program, I knew it would be a good fit for me."
Shannon Carpenter is scheduled to graduate after the 2020 fall semester with a degree in aviation maintenance technology, she is the reigning chapter president of the Association of Women in Aviation Maintenance at the WMU College of Aviation. Carpenter, who hails from the Livingston County community of Howell northwest of Detroit, has her eyes set on future employment in corporate aviation and, further on down the line, a position with the National Transportation Safety Board.
"I decided to attend WMU because the College of Aviation offers one of the best programs in the country that includes an emphasis on aviation management and operations," Pruitt says. "My instructors have years and years of experience in this field, and that is incredibly valuable."
WMU alumni Matt Thaler and Corey Davis have something in common other than their diplomas. Both have made it "in The Bigs," "in The Show," "on Broadway." Davis plays in front of thousands of people and before millions on television as a wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans in the National Football League. While far less notable to the general public, Thaler is nonetheless at the top of his profession as a Boeing 717 first officer for Delta Air Lines based out of Detroit.
For a long time, the Western Michigan University College of Aviation was music to the ears of Garrett Gokey. Once enrolled, the same could be said for the WMU Bronco Marching Band. The combination served as a four-year quinella for the program's 2012 alumnus who graduated with a degree in aviation flight science. Right after his 2008 graduation from Paw Paw High School, he started making collegiate progress on his future path in life that now features paychecks authorized by Delta Air Lines.
When Maya Thornley was growing up, "Rocky Mountain High" was more than a John Denver song. For her, it meant flying with her dad in the skies over her home state of Colorado. While being a WMU instructor was her first official job in aviation, her first out-of-the-Western-loop position -- no doubt assisted by her Alpha Eta Rho days -- was with PROAIR Aviation that was founded in 1996 and located in Paducah, Ky. The Colorado native is now affiliated with Aviation Advisor Inc. that has locations Kenosha, Wis., Naples, Fla., and the Chicago area. It specializes in charters, aircraft management, acquisitions, and consulting with enterprises seeking to add an aviation component to their operations.
On the way to his 2004 degree in aviation flight science and aviation management with a minor in business, Justin Mertel first served as a dispatcher at the college's airfield. Then, like the majority of his WMU student colleagues, he spent semesters as a flight instructor. Mertel says that job not only added to his air hours, but also taught him a great deal about effective time management, helping to prepare him for his "dream job" at United Airlines.