Alumni Blog

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.

WMU Aviation Flight Science Alumni Brian Depuy and Dean Captain Dave Powell

DePuy is the Guy! Finding his path and overcoming challenges, Brian lands at Envoy Air

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

A single failure doesn't equate to total, abject failure because each setback can be a valued learning tool.  Brian DePuy has the life experiences to prove that. For the WMU College of Aviation alumnus who now flies as a first officer for Envoy Air out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, compiling a bunch of rejections in his quiver is how he eventually hit the bull's-eye.  Don't believe that? Just ask the successful novelists whose work room walls are plastered with rejection slips.

WMU Aviation Flight and Management Alumna Karen Kropornicki

From WMU Ambassador to Aviation Analyst – Karen Kropornicki Sets the Gold Standard

Posted by Tom Thinnes on
"I was lucky to get a job with NGA as an aeronautical analyst shortly after graduation," Karen says. "Like most people, I had never heard of NGA until I attended the Women in Aviation International's annual conference in 2012 in Dallas. I handed over my resume, had an interview during the conference, and started work a few months later." The NGA employs 14,500 people at more than 120 locations in the United States and around the world. Kropornicki, a 2011 graduate of the WMU College of Aviation with degrees in aviation flight science and aviation management and operations (with a business minor), is based in the fabled English city of London.
WMU Aviation Flight Alumni Noah Bielat

Aiming High with the Air Force ROTC – Noah Bielat’s Sights are Set

Posted by Tom Thinnes on
Bielat says that, as his years at Portage Central High School were coming to an end in the spring of 2016, Western was the only college to which he applied and the primary reason for that is its College of Aviation, which is close to his Kalamazoo-area home. "It's one of the top flight schools in the country and it all sounded like the perfect opportunity."
WMU Aviation Management and Operations Alumni Ray Hayman

Delivering Success: Aviation Management Lands Raymone Hayman at FedEx Express

Posted by Tom Thinnes on
"Father Knows Best" was a highly popular sit-com on radio and television in the late 1940s and 1950s.  For Raymone "Ray" Hayman, it was "Mom" who knew best as the family's pathfinder. "My mother observed my intrigue with components and my ability to work very well with my hands," says Ray, who earned his degree in aviation management and operations in 2016. "She decided that my obtaining a trade would elicit an exceptional living in the future and she enrolled me into Davis Aerospace High School -- totally against my wishes."
WMU Aviation Management and Operations Alumni Zachary Puchacz

Planes, Pucks and Puchacz: Zachary Scores in Aviation Management

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

Puchacz majored in what is now aviation management and operations and minored in business on the way to his 2003 WMU degree. During this time, he held his first job in the industry as an intern at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport. That stint cemented his decision to focus on the management aspect of aviation and prepped him for his first full-time job -- at Teterboro Airport in New Jersey as an operations coordinator.

WMU Aviation Flight Science Alumni Doug Stutzman, U.S. Army Blackhawk Pilot

A Bronco in a Blackhawk – A Salute to Doug Stutzman’s Service

Posted by Tom Thinnes on

Like most of Western's aviation majors, Doug Stutzman thought he was initially on a path to work for an airline. The detour happened in his senior year at Western at a college event -- Aviation Outlook Day. In an exchange with an Army recruiter, he was encouraged to explore an opportunity that he had never considered before. To boost his bid for acceptance in the Army's flight-training program for warrant officers, Capt. Dave Powell, dean of the College of Aviation, and former instructor Felix Esquibel penned letters of recommendation.

WMU Aviation Technical Operations Alumni David Fish, Army Warrant Officer

A Flying Fish: David Fish takes Tech Ops to Army Air School

Posted by Tom Thinnes on
David Fish is the poster boy for those students who should always want to keep their options open and their gazes focused constantly on the horizon for the opportunities that might come into view. 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.