Alumni Blog

WMU Aviation Flight Science Alumni Chris Desmond in Alaska

From Sun ‘n Fun to Air in Alaska – Chris Desmond’s Aviation Aspirations Continue to Soar

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

Raised in Winter Haven, Fla., and learning all things aviation in nearby Lakeland, Chris Desmond never liked the cold. So naturally he would head north to Western Michigan University to pursue his degree and advanced training in aviation. And, of course, go even farther north to Alaska to begin his career. Five years later, he's still there and plans to stay. It's not that Desmond, a 2015 graduate of Winter Haven High School, missed the climate aspects of any geography class he ever took. Alaska's rugged, magnificent beauty and unmatched environment have warmed his psyche and tempered his body's response to chilly temperatures. For a pilot, there is a lot of unique and sensational flying up there. So, in effect, what cold?

WMU Aviation Technical Operations Alumni Christopher Myrick

Maintaining Aviation Excellence – Christopher Myrick Purposely Picks A Career in Aviation Technical Operations

Posted by Tom Thinnes on
Christopher Myrick can offer salient advice to young folks who bury their faces in a video game or cell phone when on a family vacation by car. They might be missing some valued and career-shaping experiences. Just ask the 2014 graduate of Lincoln High School in Ypsilanti, Mich. "Growing up," Myrick says, "I would constantly be driven past the Detroit metro airport to see my grandmother in Detroit. I remember always looking up and seeing the planes fly over (interstate highway) I-94 to land. They were so big and it always fascinated me."
WMU Aviation Management and Operations Alumni Philip Kroll

Aviation Management leads to Philip Kroll’s One Constant – Change is Part of the Journey

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

Philip Kroll's life experiences fly in the face of author Thomas Wolfe's premise in his novel "You Can't Go Home Again." Not so for Kroll, a 2010 graduate of the WMU College of Aviation with a degree in aviation management and operations.  He has -- in effect -- come "home" as the assistant director of the Battle Creek Executive Airport at Kellogg Field, which is also the home base of the College of Aviation.  And he returned to his career's genesis with some impressive credentials. 

Love Aviation Style: Katie Vena and Aaron Mohnke Take Off and Tie the Knot!

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

Pilot-spouses Katie and Aaron Mohnke (pronounced Monk) might assess their aviation careers so far as being "the best of times and the worst of times" -- with a majority emphasis on the former.  Since their graduation from the WMU College of Aviation with degrees in aviation flight science in 2016 and 2015, respectively, there has been a period or two when they wore the same airline uniform; but other times -- including right now -- they have been flying for different enterprises. 

WMU Aviation Management and Operations Alumni Mitchell Carr

Aviation Management and Operations Alumnus Mitchell Carr Cruising in His Career

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

Even when facing discouraging times, advises Mitchell Carr, who earned his degree in aviation management and operations in the spring of 2020, and when wondering whether "it was worth it," that is all part of the process and that "your time is coming."  Carr says he tells prospective aviators to "just believe in yourself and that light at the end of the tunnel will shine when the time is right.  Just keep going."  Carr believes words from renowned Virginia preacher Bishop T. D. Jakes backs him up:  "One of the tests of greatness is your ability to survive frustration." 

WMU Aviation Flight Science Alumni Joel Webley and Family

Joel Webley’s Words of Aviation Wisdom

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

"My advice to students is to get engaged," he says.  "Engagement means going beyond passive participation and, instead, make yourself actively present in ways that enhance your student experience.  Join a student organization.  Participate in special events and projects.  The connections you'll make and the people you'll meet will be invaluable in giving you access to more opportunities.  You'll find more enjoyment in your journey and have a deeper connection to the industry."

WMU Aviation Flight Science Alumni Griffin Norton

Aviate’s Path Leads Griffin to Air Wisconsin- He Gets it Done!

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

No matter what your passions or personal interests are, it can be valuable to step back -- or step away -- to gain some perspectives and a clearer view of future possibilities. Just ask Griffin Norton, a WMU (Western Michigan University) magna-cum-laude graduate in 2019 in aviation flight science and now a first officer for Air Wisconsin, one of United Airlines' premier regional air-carrier subsidiaries and Aviate partners. 

WMU Aviation Flight Science Alumni Tom Whittles

Wing Walking with Delta Pilot Tom Whittles

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

In the Tom Whittles clan, the aviation acorn does not fall too far from the tree.  But it can still take flight.  Now wearing the uniform of Delta Air Lines, Whittles is the third generation in his family to make beautiful machines overcome the laws of gravity. His grandfather was a member of "the Greatest Generation," serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II.  Grandpa's son and Tom's dad -- Jim Whittles -- has been part of the WMU College of Aviation faculty for 20-plus years and is currently a lead flight instructor.

WMU Aviation Technical Operations Alumni Ed Florek

The Aviation Advantage: Ed Florek Flourishes in Aviation Technical Operations

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

Growing up in Calumet City, Ill., at the southwestern edge of Lake Michigan in what is referred to as "Chicagoland," Ed Florek was the youngster who took apart the mechanical alarm clock or the family's lawn mower to learn what made them tick. As a 2020 graduate of the WMU College of Aviation with a degree in aviation technical operations, Florek is one of the first WMU students to take advantage of the AAR Eagle Pathway Program.

WMU Aviation Management and Operations Alumni William Doe

William Doe Delivers – From WMU to FedEx Express

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

Will Doe, a 2015 graduate of the Western Michigan University College of Aviation, was born in Liberia and spent his first 10 years in the southwest African nation located at the top of the continent's ice-cream-cone-like bulge along the Atlantic Ocean.  By the time his age hit double "ones," he was living within visibility of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest terminal in the world and the first on the planet to crest more than 100 million passengers in a calendar year.