The year was 1903, and two seemingly unconnected events were unfolding. The institution, which would eventually become Western Michigan University, was founded in Kalamazoo, Mich, while down in Kitty Hawk, NC, two inventors from Dayton, Ohio were destined to revolutionize the transportation industry. Although education and aviation seemed worlds apart, in 1939 those two worlds blended into one when aviation maintenance was added to the curriculum offerings at Western State Teachers College.
Fast forward 80 years, and the genesis of the aviation program in 1939 at Western Michigan University can be viewed in its current state. As the program expanded and evolved, the aviation program added flight training and aviation management to its curriculum offerings, to complement the established aviation maintenance program. As it continued to grow, the program was eventually established as a stand-alone college within WMU, and in 1999, was renamed the Western Michigan University College of Aviation.
Over the course of its 80 year history, the College of Aviation has grown into a world renowned program with a prodigious industry reputation. With over 800 resident undergraduate students, the College of Aviation is recognized as one of largest aviation program in the United States and with its fleet of 28 Cirrus SR20s, is home to the largest flight school in the mid-west. Additionally, the College of Aviation offers the only comprehensive aviation program at a public university in Michigan, making the College of Aviation a powerful force in the future of aviation training.
In 2017, a new location in Punta Gorda, FL was built to extend the College of Aviation's mission. WMU, Charlotte County, the Punta Gorda Airport and Florida SouthWestern State College partnered to launch the program in fall 2017. As our Punta Gorda campus continues to grow, we will continue to find new and innovative programs to offer that will have a positive impact the future of aviation.
Excellent industry reputation, being one of the largest aviation programs in the nation and considered as one of the best aviation programs in the world, the WMU College of Aviation produces graduates who are dynamic and effective in the field of aviation. Students will receive guidance from world-class aviation instructors and flight time at our Punta Gorda Airport hangar location. Sunny days and clear skies allows for the college’s mission to establish and maintain the most advanced training fleet and equipment aviation. Explore the western Florida experience with great local restaurants, professional baseball, water sports, and being just a few minutes away from the beach viewing the Gulf of Mexico. Being 40 miles to Fort Myers and just over an hour drive Tampa-area, Punta Gorda has access to everything a young adult could ask for in the safety of a great community
To prepare leaders who are sought after by the aerospace industry, and engage in meaningful research that advances the knowledge base.
The College of Aviation will be recognized as the premier aerospace education and research institution in our diverse global society.
The College of Aviation is committed to maintaining its state-of-the-art, world-class professional aviation programs and curriculums, to ensure they are continued to be viewed among the best in the world. Believing in the continuous improvement model, the College of Aviation constantly examines its pedagogy, investigating its approach to teaching and pioneering revolutionary new methods of instruction. All of which is designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of aviation professionals to work within a team or crew. Crew Resource Management isn’t just a concept, it is a foundation. The College of Aviation produces graduates who think critically, communicate effectively, and participate meaningfully and ethically in the dynamic field of aviation.