A person's first flight can be an eye-opening, perspective-shifting and career-focusing experience. It was for WMU College of Aviation junior Emma Anderson, and hers was even more of a milestone. She took off and landed on . . . water. Raised in Sparta, Mich., something of a bedroom community for Grand Rapids to the south, Anderson was 16 at the time and on her way to becoming a 2018 graduate of Sparta High School
Dominic Nicolai has rubbed elbows -- and wings -- with some of the giants of the WMU College of Aviation in his 28 years as an instructor. A flight instructor since his 1993 graduation from the WMU program, he has these achievements on his resume -- named FAA Flight Instructor of the Year for the Grand Rapids area in 1996 and garnering master-instructor status in 2008 from the National Association of Flight Instructors.
As a sailor, Zach Orfin mastered his way through and on top of the water. As a College of Aviation student, he's soared amidst the clouds far above the solid ground. There appears to be a third medium in his future -- space, the Final Frontier, in the words of Capt. James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise.
"Western was in that perfect spot for me," he says. "It's just far enough where I could get the experience of going away for school, while still being close enough to easily go home if I needed to. Plus, when I went on a tour of WMU, I fell in love with the campus in Kalamazoo and with the aviation facilities in Battle Creek. That pretty much made my decision."
If anybody can be defined as a legacy enrollee in the WMU aviation program, it's Michael Coldagelli. His grandfather, Paul Harding, is a member of the Western class of 1954. After his military service, Harding ended up as the executive vice president of marketing for -- where else -- Western Airlines, which, with its hub in Salt Lake City, functioned from 1925 to 1987 before it merged with Delta Air Lines. Originally from New Berlin, Wis, Coldagelli is a double major in aviation flight science and aviation management and operations.
The Facebook folks, who have garnered their share of the wrong kind of publicity in recent years, should connect with the family of Amanda Charlton for a testimonial about the tech giant's true mission -- the sharing of good and valued information. That's the reason Charlton, raised in Spring Branch, Texas, which is part of metropolitan San Antonio, ended up pursuing higher education way up north in a place called Kalamazoo, Mich. and opting to double major in aviation flight science and aviation management and operations.
Aviation came into Hayes' direct focus as a junior in high school in the fall of 2015 when he enrolled in the aviation-exploration course offered by the Calhoun County Career Center's Battle Creek campus. The seed had earlier been planted that spring. "I took a tour of the technical-based school," he says. "I was excited about all of the components that the aviation course -- the aviation industry for that matter -- had to offer."